The fundamentals for a continuing healthy stock market are firmly in place, says Markman Capital Management (612-920-4848). "These include a relatively low interest-rate environment, benign inflation, and the best productivity gains in 30 years. These all point to a multiple expansion in the market. The multiple is now trading right in the middle of its historic norm. If interest rates stay relatively low, and the multiple expands to just 18 or 20 times earnings, Dow 6000 becomes a reasonable expectation."
- Citizens Emerging Growth Fund was the top-performing socially reponsible mutual fund in 1995, rising 40.7 percent. It avoids companies that profit from weapons, tobacco or alcohol or treat animals inhumanely. It favors promising small- and medium-sized U.S. companies which stress equal opportunity, employee training programs, community involvement and the environment. Recent favorite stocks: National Surgery Centers, Edmark, Bay Networks, Checkfree, Ascend Communications, Borland International, Sun Microsystems, Corporate Express, Watson Pharmaceuticals, Computer Associates International.- Global demand for oil is rising by 1.5 to 2 million barrels daily. Yet domestic oil production has sunk to 40-year lows. The beneficiaries are the drilling-rig operators, says John Tozzi of San Francisco-based Cambridge Investments. Drilling stocks sell for less than 10 times 1996 cash flow. Yet few new rigs have been built since 1986 and rig usage is at 15-year highs. Tozzi's favorite rig stocks: Ensco International, Falcon Drilling, Global Marine, Nabors Industries.
- Cheap stocks with rising dividends are a value investor's double play. Forbes recently listed 10 stocks with five-year annual dividend growth rates of 20 percent or better and price/earnings ratios under 20-to-1: ADAC Laboratories, Argonaut Group, Beauticontrol Cosmetics, CMS Energy, Computer Language Research, Crompton & Knowles, Ingles Markets, Merrimac Industries, Readers Digest, Winnebago.
- Cable television's explosive growth has necessitated massive debt levels. This indebtedness has produced low credit ratings and high yields for cable bonds. "That's sure to change in coming years," predicts Utility Forecaster newsletter (1101 King St., Suite 400, Alexandria, Va., 22314), "especially since the telecommunication deregulation bill has passed. As cable company investments start to pay off and their ratings are raised, their bonds will soar, regardless of what happens to overall interest rates." U.F. is particularly bullish on the high-yielding bonds of four cable companies: Cablevision System, Comcast, Tele-Communications, Time Warner.
- In recent years the supply of silver available in the marketplace has declined markedly whenever prices have fallen below $6. "This tells us that current prices aren't high enough to either express demand or coax marginal holdings out of investors' hands," says Value Forecaster newsletter (P.O. Box 50, Pilot Hill, Calif. 95664). "These supply deficits should continue for years to come, putting upward pressure on prices. Silver probably has at least a couple more dollars to go on the upside before the decade ends."
- Broker-sold "wrap" accounts are worth considering by investors with six-figure and higher portfolios who'd like everything done for them, says Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine (1729 H St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006). "But smaller investors and more hands-on types should think twice before taking on a wrap account's typical 2 percent-to-3 percent annual management fee."
Investor's Notebook is a digest of investment opinion from the world's leading financial advisers. It does not recommend any specific investments, and no endorsement is implied or should be inferred. For more information, contact the individual firms cited.