"Since World War II, in no case has the stock market staged a broad-based 10 percent rally, held it at least a week, and then reversed direction to new lows," observes Personal Finance (1101 King St., Suite 400, Alexandria, VA 22314). "We believe this latest rally will be no exception, since it reflects significant underlying economic developments - a sharp fall in commodity prices and interest rates."
- GT International Growth Fund has a unique approach to global investing. Its portfolio manager, Christian Wignall, spends all his time studying international economic trends, deciding which countries hold the most promise. He leaves individual industry and stock selection to six area experts. This division of responsibility has allowed G.T.I. to appreciate an average 16.4 percent over the past five years and buck the dollar's recent rise. Current favorite countries and stocks: Spain (Ferrosa, Iberduero, Mare Nostrum); Mexico (Cifra, Telefonos de Mexico); and Hong Kong (Hutchison Whampoa, Hong Kong Telecom).- Now that the recession is no longer a secret, it may be time to start buying battered consumer durables stocks, observes Prescott, Ball & Turben in Cleveland. "Their prices always begin rising before their earnings. In the previous two rebounds, they rose 124 percent and 145 percent from trough to peak. We would favor those with the most favorable blend of external, internal and valuation dynamics: Armstrong World Industries, M.A. Hanna, Huffy, Masco, Mr. Coffee, PPG Industries."
- Almost 1,000 publicly held companies now allow shareholders to buy additional shares commission-free by reinvesting their dividends. Many have raised their dividends for 10 consecutive years or more, according to Dow Theory Forecasts (7412 Calumet Ave., Hammond, IN 46324). Among these are such classic blue-chip and growth stocks as: American Home Products, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Colgate-Palmolive, G.E., H.J. Heinz, Hon-eywell, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg, McDonald's, 3M, J.P. Morgan, PepsiCo, Philip Morris, Procter & Gamble.
- Investors who are frightened by the recession's persistence can still get tax-free income from municipal bonds if they abide by one cardinal rule, says Muni Fund Bond Report (P.O. Box 2179, Huntington Beach, CA 92647). "Buy only top-quality bonds, ones rated at least AA, or funds and trusts investing in them. Such bonds are highly unlikely to default even in a deep recession. And the yields on lower-rated bonds aren't high enough to compensate for their risks."
- If you must buy a load fund, should it be a front-end or a back-end load? The surprising answer from Merrill Lynch's William Sullivan: "Recent studies have shown that at $10 per share and 15 percent growth per year, a front-end load fund with a 6.5 percent charge will outperform a back-end load fund with a 1 percent fee after six years."
- Buying the stocks recommended in The Wall Street Journal's "Heard on the Street" column can be profitable - but only if you do so on the day of the recommendation or for the two days preceding it, says the Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis (Graduate School of Business Administration, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195). "Our studies show a 5.1 percent average return for single-company recommendations over that three-day period, followed by a slight decline over the succeeding 21 days."
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.