"One misconception prevalent on Wall Street is that excessive consumer, corporate and government debt will prolong this recession and decimate stock prices," says Value Forecaster (P.O. Box 50, Pilot Hill, CA 95664). "In fact, total U.S. credit market debt - all debt owed in all sectors, now $13.3 trillion - peaked in 1985 and has declined ever since. The rate of new debt formation has fallen each of the past six years."

- Columbia Growth Fund is a theme player. Its managers spend most of their time trying to predict the economy's next trend and the stock sectors most likey to benefit from it. They then assign analysts to uncover that sector's most promising individual issues. C.G.'s nimbleness has allowed it to appreciate an average 15.4 percent over the past decade. Recent favorite trends: falling oil prices and interest rates. Favorite beneficiaries: Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer, Nalco Chemical, IBM, Burlington Resources, Syntex, Union Pacific, Caterpillar.- Mexico is getting its financial house in order. Major industries are being privatized. Wealthy citizens are bringing investment capital back home. Inflation and peso devaluation have declined dramatically. Fortune magazine recently asked some of Wall Street's leading experts on Latin American markets to name their favorite undervalued Mexican stocks. The consensus: Alcatel-Inde-tel, Cifra, Formento Economico Mexicano, Grupo Condumex, Kim-berly Clark de Mexico, Tolmex, Vi-tro.

- There aren't as many corporate takeovers as there were several years ago. But the stocks of potential takeover candidates are also much lower. "AT&T's bid for NCR has reminded the market that the takeover game isn't dead," says Laloggia's Special Situation Report (P.O. Box 167, Rochester, NY 14601). "There will always be opportunities for soundly financed corporations to acquire another company when the deal makes sense as a long-term combination." Laloggia's favorite takeover candidates now: Campbell Soup, Foster Wheeler, Gannett, Petrie Stores.

- "Junk bonds are an increasingly interesting speculative play," observes Forbes' Ben Weberman. "But given the potential rewards and risks, individual investors are better off with junk funds than with specific issues. The diversity of fund portfolios prevents them from being devastated by a few defaults. Before choosing a fund, call your candidates' customer service 800 numbers to ask for breakdowns by rating, type (corporate, government or cash) and country (domestic or foreign)."

- "Investors in annuities should make sure their annuities are with an insurance company, not a bank," warns The Blue Chip and Income Report (4667 Route 9, Suite 12, Howell, NJ 07731). "With a bank annuity, you don't receive FDIC coverage and face severe penalties on early redemption. Many banks also offer "teaser" rates which can be several points over the prevailing CD rate but which only last for a limited time."

- "Real estate investors should always try to look at any deal from the seller's point of view," says The Hume Moneyletter (835 Franklin Court, Marietta, GA 30067). "You'll have a much better chance of making a good deal if you understand the seller's needs. Try to get a personal meeting with the seller and structure an offer that solves some of his or her problems. In return you can of-ten get a lower price or better terms on seller financing."

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.