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With the stock market at record levels, it's not surprising that security analysts are putting out optimistic earnings forecasts, says Forbes. "It's good for their employers' business. Take their predictions of a 30 percent 1992 profit increase in the S&P with a grain of salt, though. Last year they thought S&P 500 earnings would rise 14 percent, vs. the 11 percent loss they actually experienced."

- Gintel Fund, which has appreciated an average 15.1 percent annually over the past decade, tries to mix the growth fund's aggressiveness with the value fund's emphasis on capital preservation. It does this by making big bets on a few growth companies (there recently were only 31 stocks in its portfolio) and by buying them cheap (its recent price-earnings ratio was 25 percent less than the market average). Gintel's recent favorites: American Cyanamid, Boeing, Capstead Mortgage, Intergraph, Penn Central, Phelps Dodge, Schering-Plough, USX-US Steel Group.- "The last time we saw a real estate slump like this was in 1974-75," notes The Turnaround Letter (225 Friend St., Suite 801, Boston, Mass. 02114). "Then smart investors made tremendous profits by buying the stocks of real estate investment trusts. We believe there are now a number of troubled REITs that could provide spectacular returns if they can work out their problems." T.L.'s favorites, in ascending order of risk: New Plan Realty, MGI Properties, Property Capital, Banyan Strategic Land Trust, Banyan Mortgage Investment Fund.

- With interest rates on short-term investments plummeting, investors are seeking alternative income choices. "Why not choose a high-yielding stock and grab income plus growth?" asks Fortune magazine. Fortune surveyed some of the best value analysts on Wall Street and came up with five specific yield picks. All are big, quality companies that currently yield more than both the average stock and their own historic norms: Cigna, Dow Chemical, Great Western Financial, J.C. Penney, Sears Roebuck.

- "The fundamentals to underpin a genuine bull market in gold bullion are simply not yet in place," says the Richesse Letter (P.O. Box 23539, Claremont, South Africa 7700). "Gold could fall to $300 an ounce. Such a catastrophe would impact adversely on gold shares, which now seem vulnerable to both their Elliott Wave pattern and to their lack of value."

- Convertible bonds, which are exchangeable for a pre-set number of their issuing company's shares, are a "great way for income-oriented investors to reap the twin benefits of small-stock strength and economic recovery," says Personal Finance (1101 King St., Suite 400, Alexandria, Va. 22314). Here are P.F.'s favorite small-growth company convertibles: AL Labs, Beverly Enterprises, Bindley West, Bruno's, Diasonics, Kirby Corp., McKesson Corp., Pioneer-Standard Electric, Porta Systems, Wyle Labs.

- If you must invest in penny stocks, take some advice from a man who does it for a living, Joel Tillinghast of Fidelity Low-Priced Stock Fund. Tillinghast prefers small companies with positive earnings and cash flow, strong finances and an established niche. "If you have an unprofitable company with a crummy balance sheet that is 32nd in its industry, then you have a problem because a lot of them can go away and do go away."

Investor's Notebook is a digest of investment opinion from the world's leading financial advisers.