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INSIDER TRADING INDICATES STOCKS ARE STILL DIRT CHEAP

A digest of investment opinion from the world's leading financial advisers

"In the 1980s, insider trading was an almost infallible indicator of stocks' near-term future," notes Personal Finance (1101 King St., Alexandria, VA 22314). "What are the insiders telling us now? The ratio of insider selling to buying (total number of sellers divided by purchasers) recently dipped below 1. Since this ratio's long-term average is 2.5, the current reading is bullish with a capital B. Insider activity is telling us loud and clear that stocks, despite their historically high levels, are still dirt cheap."- Donna Calder, who runs Oppenheimer's Discovery Fund, is something of a discovery herself. Calder worked her way up from a secretarial position on Wall Street to become one of the industry's hottest young money managers. Under Calder's leadership, Discovery gained 34 percent last year and has outperformed the market in each of its first three years. Calder's favorite recent discoveries: Air & Water Technologies, American Integrity, Calgon Carbon, Genzyme, Home Nutritional Services, Metcalf & Eddy, Shaw Industries, Southwestern Bell and T2 Medical.

- Financial World magazine recently asked four top international money managers to name their favorite European stocks. Dan Duane of First Investors Global Fund picked Moksel, the German meat packer. Jean-Marie Eveillard of So-Gen International Fund selected Sa-fra Republic Holdings, the intercontinental bank. Shreekant Panday of United International Growth Fund tabbed Germany's Deutschebank. And Nicholas Bratt of the Scudder International Fund split his vote between Adea S.A, the Swiss-based temporary employment agency, and Christalevia Espanola, Spain's leading industrial glassmaker.

- Cash flow is how much spendable cash a company's operations generate. In this high-flying market, the average stock recently sold for 23 times estimated cash flow. But the brokerage house of Tucker Anthony has found six sound stocks selling for less than one-third that ratio: Dow Chemical, Dun & Bradstreet, International Paper, Pennzoil, Southwestern Bell and Universal Health.

- Despite its marked-down status, gold garners no support from John Templeton, dean of American value investors. "Frankly, gold hasn't been a bargain in nearly 20 years," he said. "It's a barren investment because there's no yield. Also, its price is now 900 percent higher than it was 20 years ago, while stocks are still only 170 percent above their 1968 peak."

- "Most investors know Bond-Pricing Principle No. 1," says Eric Kirzner in The Hume Moneyletter (835 Franklin Court, Marietta, Ga. 30067). "That is: If interest rates fall, bond prices rise, and vice versa. But which are the best bonds to buy to take advantage of this principle? Here is the rule of thumb: As interest rates fall, longer-term bonds tend to rise more than short-term bonds, low-coupon bonds rise more than high-coupon bonds, and high-quality bonds rise more than low-quality bonds."

- Investing in foreign stocks may seem like a fad, but its success is actually a decade-long phenomenon, according to figures compiled by Schabacker Investment Management. In the past 10 years here's how the best-performing mutual fund groups have stacked up by sector allocation: international (up 19.9 percent annually), global (up 18.2 percent), long-term growth (up 16.1 percent), maximum capital gains (up 15.7 percent), growth and income (up 15.6 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. (C) 1990 Universal Press Syndicate 4900 Main St., Kansas City, MO 64112