The postwar stock market rally hasn't convinced Standard & Poor's Emerging & Special Situations (25 Broadway, New York, NY 10004). "Recessionary periods usually cause stock prices to rise as interest rates decline in response to Fed easing, only to fall again as declining corporate profits are reported. We believe this will prove true again in the coming months, with the major indexes at least testing, if not falling through, the lows set last autumn."
- Scottish investment trusts, which trade on the London Stock Exchange, were the forerunners of closed-end funds in the United States. The best performers of this group over the past five years have been four funds run by Martin Currie Ltd. These funds beat the average global fund 155 percent to 87 percent. Martin Currie investment strategist Joe Scott-Plummer is currently bullish on two U.S. stocks: Al-berto-Culver and Federal National Mortgage Association. His European picks: CGE, Grolsch, Mannesmann, Massa and Veba.- "Recent earnings reports have provided some pleasant surprises for retailers," notes Dow Theory Forecasts (7412 Calumet Ave., Hammond, IN 46324). "More good news may be in store as consumer confidence rises. The group overall is trading at a modest valuation due to recessionary fears. It offers some attractively priced issues." D.T.F. 's favorite stocks for playing a retailing rebound are all off-price merchants: Family Dollar Stores, K mart, TJX, Wal-Mart, Walgreen and Wool-worth.
- From among what it considers "The 200 Best Small Companies in America," Forbes recently listed 20 that were both extremely under-leveraged and underpriced. Seven actually sold for only single-digit
price/earnings ratios despite the fact that the market has been flirting with record territory. The seven: Adaptec, GZA Environmental Technology, Harleysville Group, MBIA, Melamine Chemicals, Penn Treaty American, Safecard Services.
- Residential rental properties, primarily apartments, have the most near-term profit potential of any real estate sector, according to experts polled by the Urban Land Institute. A close second were industrial warehouses, followed by currently for-sale residential property. The three sectors the experts felt real estate investors would have the most trouble squeezing profits from: hotels, suburban office properties, raw land.
- Looking for good yields during this time of falling interest rates? "One fairly safe investment that can provide double-digit yields over the short term is a high-coupon electric utility bond with a call date in, for example, 1992," says Moneypaper (1010 Mamaroneck Ave., Mamaroneck, NY 10543). "On average, such bonds provide almost 300 basis points over comparable Treasuries, and some 100 basis points more than a utility bond that matures in 1992. Just be sure the issue doesn't carry a provision allowing redemption at par."
- For those who want to invest internationally but don't want the complication of judging a closed-end fund's relationship to its net asset value, traditional open-end international funds may be best. No-Load Fund Investor (P.O. Box 283, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY 10706) recommends four no-load foreign funds: Financial Strategic-European, T. Rowe Price New Asia, T. Rowe Price International Discovery, Scudder International. "Equal amounts invested in each provide extra emphasis on Europe and Asia without overexposing you to pricey Japanese stocks."
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.