Sobering news for the nation's investors: No matter what any broker tells you, there will be no "summer rally" in the stock market this year.
That unequivocal declaration can be heard right now from a variety of financial analysts who don't claim any special powers to divine the future.For all they know, these analysts acknowledge, stock prices may rise appreciably between now and late September.
But even if the Dow Jones industrial average breaks 5,000 by the Fourth of July, they say, none of the credit will belong to the summer rally - a bit of folklore they contend should have long since been retired from brokerage boardrooms, along with green eyeshades and paper ticker tape.
"There is no such thing as a `summer rally' on Wall Street," says Louis Navellier, publisher of the investment letter MPT Review in Incline Village, Nev.
"Such a big deal is made of the `summer rally' that one might get the impression the market puts on its best razzle-dazzle performance in the summertime," notes Yale Hirsch in his annual Stock Trader's Almanac. "Nothing could be further from the truth.
"Not only does the market `rally' in every season of the year, but it does so with more gusto in the winter, spring and fall than in the summer."
Hirsch arrived at that conclusion by measuring, over the past 30 years, how much in aggregate the Dow Jones industrial average gained to its highest level in each of the four calendar seasons from its low point in the two months leading up to that season's arrival.
Winter showed a rise totaling 409 percent; spring 300 percent, and fall 291 percent. Summer came in last with 273 percent.
It is easy to imagine how the summer-rally myth might have sprung up. In the days before air conditioning and year-round institutionalized investment management, it was especially tough to attract much business to Wall Street in the summertime.
So brokers, dependent on commissions for their livelihood, would have been eager to develop whatever means they could of prodding customers out of their hammocks and beach chairs and into the stock market.
But now, in the age of cellular phones and asset allocation by computer, the pitch has lost most of its reason for existence.
Its statistical basis was always flimsy. "Historically, the market has a flat performance record for the summer period," says Bob Dickey, technical analyst at Dain Bosworth Inc. in Minneapolis.
"Sure, you can measure from a May or June low to an August high, and come up with a statistical gain, but most of that time is usually spent within a trading range."
Or as Hugh Johnson at First Albany Corp. in Albany, N.Y., observes: "If you had bought stocks on May 31 in each of the last 34 years, at some point during the summer stock prices were higher. Perhaps they were higher only for a day or a few moments, but they were always higher at some point during the summer.
"So the myth may be right. Technically there's always a summer rally on Wall Street. Of course, your timing sometimes had to be exquisite to profit from the rally. You needed to sell right at that moment that the market hit its high, or your profits went up in smoke."
If summer rally talk has been deflated, the alternative over the next couple of months might seem to be falling stock prices. But Byron Wein, an analyst at Morgan Stanley & Co., sees a third possibility for summer 1994:
"The market does not seem to be revving up for either a big rally or a convulsive decline," he says.
"It is my view that the summer of 1994 will be dull and boring, a good time for improving your golf swing or backhand or, for the more contemplative, taking inventory of your soul prior to the next midlife crisis."