Some stock market analysts are extremely uncomfortable with the market's current risk-reward ratio. "We're hearing lots of positive forecasts based on a happy outcome for the recession," says The Klein-Wolman Investment Letter (15 Roszel Road, Princeton, NJ 08540). "This is like saying something good will happen unless something bad happens. We're staying out of the market until we believe the risk-reward ratio is at a level where we feel comfortable investing."
- Small-company stocks have underperformed the market in recent years. But not all funds specializing in them have lagged. Sit New Beginning Growth Fund has appreciated 20 percent annually the past five years, vs. just 15.3 percent for the average growth fund. Sit has outperformed by mixing large-cap stocks with smaller ones, avoiding turnaround situations and buying new issues. Recent picks: Browning-Ferris, Burlington Resources, MAPCO, Medco Containment Services, Med-tronic, St. Jude Medical, Santa Fe Energy Resources, UST.- If the market should sink from these lofty levels, the high yields of utility stocks will support them. And if interest rates keep falling, utilities could even buck a retreat. Changing Times recently polled some of Wall Street's most respected utility analysts on their favorite stocks. The consensus choices: General Public Utilities (electric), Indiana Energy (gas), MCN (high-yielding gas) and United Water Resources (water).
- Stocks that held up during both the 1987 crash and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait would seem almost shockproof, notes Value Forecaster (P.O. Box 50, Pilot Hill, CA 95664). V.F. recently screened Trendline's 1,476-company database looking for issues whose prices were actually higher after both events than before. It found 18. Thirteen sold for below-market price-earnings ratios: Banco Central, KN Energy, Public Service of Colorado, Global Yield Fund, Dominion Resources, Hancock Investors Trust, Southern Indiana G&E, Southern Co., Chi-quita Brands, United Illuminating, General Public Utilities, Teco Energy, Texaco.
- Even at its 17-year low, silver doesn't appeal to many commodities analysts. "Silver inventories on the COMEX are bulging," says Dan Tierney of Fortune Commodities. "World stocks are equal to 2.35 years' worth of industrial consumption. And the uncertain prospects for the economy don't help either. Silver's major uses, photography and solder, will be very badly affected by a prolonged slowdown."
- The dumping of the dollar has been overdone, says Dave Risler, chief economist at Nomura Securities. "This euphoria about the new Europe befuddles me. It won't resemble the United States anytime soon. There will be lots of losers, because there have been lots of beneficiaries of restraints. The market has discounted all the bad news in the United States If there's a recession here, the rest of the world can only be 12 months behind."
- Investment newsletters do much better with buy recommendations, says Hulbert Financial Digest. In a test run from January through August 1990, 10 of the 11 newsletters that made short-sale recommendations saw those recommendations underperform the falling market. Four newsletters' picks actually underperformed the market by more than 3-to-1: Holt Advisory (minus 25.5 percent), Laloggia's Special Situations Report (minus 25.0 percent), Zweig Performance Rating Report (minus 24.0 percent), Value Line Investment Survey (minus 23.9 percent).
Investor's Notebook reflects the opinions of professionals. It does not endorse specific investments, and no endorsement is implied or should be inferred. For more information, contact the individual firms cited.