"It hardly seems possible, but this economic expansion is more than two years old," observes Ned Davis Research (P.O. Box 1287, Nokomis, Fla. 34274). "The average expansion since 1900 has lasted 39 months. If this expansion turns out to be typical, we're well beyond the midpoint. The implication for stocks is that a bull market is past due, as an expansion's first bull market peak has occurred an average 13 months after the expansion begins."
- The money managers at Delaware Investment Advisers in Philadelphia make five tough demands on their stocks: a yield 5 percent above the market average, a high yield compared to its historical range and current bond alternatives, the ability to sustain its dividend, market capitalization of $750 million or more, and healthy fundamentals. Surprisingly, Delaware, whose average portfolio has appreciated 16.2 percent since 1982, finds many stocks still pass muster. Among the recent candidates: Dun & Bradstreet, Eastman Kodak, Ford, General Electric, Delta Air Convertible Preferred.- "High-definition television is quickly moving from pipe dream to reality," reports Personal Finance newsletter (1101 King St., Suite 400, Alexandria, Va. 22314). "HDTV confers a razor-sharp clarity that puts today's TV pictures to shame, but it's more than just a toy for free-spending entertainment junkies. It will propel the advancement of electronic technology around the world." P.F.'s recent favorite HDTV stocks: Alpine Group, Analog Devices, Corning, Scientific Atlanta, Texas Instruments, Varian.
- What are "glocal" stocks? According to Dean Witter's William Dodge, they're "U.S. companies that are strong both at home and globally." Dodge expects such stocks to begin doing very well soon as the U.S. economy picks up steam, Japan's fiscal stimuli finally kick in and interest rates fall in Europe. Among Dodge's recent favorite "glocals": Apple Computer, Emerson Electric, Ethyl, G.E., Hewlett-Packard, Tandem Computer.
- Kenneth Lipper of Lipper & Co. in New York manages $2 billion of what he calls "scared money" for rich clients more interested in preserving what they've got than in making lots more. Still, Lipper made 17 percent on his fixed-income accounts last year, mostly by trading in convertible bonds. Among his favorite converts now: Bank of New York, Chubb Capital, Ford, Home Depot, National Bank of Detroit, Penzoil.
- "The dollar's rise in this cycle should be subdued compared to its surge during the 1983-84 economic recovery," predict the numbers crunchers at SCI Economic Adviser (P.O. Box 3060, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52406). "The foundations for a secular dollar bull market are not in place; neither the massive U.S. fiscal deficit nor the country's sizable net debtor position is likely to improve much in the next couple of years. These forces seem likely to temper the current positive cyclical backdrop of mismatched international business cycles."
- The fact that no mutual fund currently sells for a composite price-to-book ratio of less than 1.0 is another indication of how expensive this stock market has gotten. Yet seven funds still sell at price/book ratios below 1.7, according to Morningstar Mutual Funds (53 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, Ill. 60604).