Each year, United & Babson Investment Report from Wellesley, Mass., offers a special report on 24 of the prior year's most actively traded stocks on the New York Stock Exchange. Here are their latest buy-hold-sell opinions on these popular issues:
American Express (AXP, 52-week range: $17 1/2 -$35 1/4 ) had a rough 1990, hurt by the ongoing profit drag at its Shearson brokerage unit. Meanwhile, travel-related services have been experiencing stiff competition. Hold."
"AT&T (AT&T, 52-week range: $29-$46 5/8 ) went on the offensive in 1990, aggressively counterattacking in the long-distance markets and making a bold $6 billion for NCR. Hold."
"BankAmerica (BAC; 52-week range: $17 1/2 -$33 1/2 ) has taken advantage of its stronger-than-average balance sheet by acquiring S&Ls in neighboring states. The bank continues to report good earnings results. Hold."
"Baxter International (BAX; 52-week range: $20 1/2 -$29 1/2 ) is enjoying the benefits from its restructuring. Earnings should reach $1.95 a share in 1991, up from an estimated $1.65 in 1990. Buy."
"Boeing (BA; 52-week range: $37 3/4 -$61 7/8 ) has been buffeted by Mideast and recessionary worries, but its backlog now exceeds $100 billion, with cash topping $3.8 billion. Net should surge to over $5 a share this year and approach $6 in 1992. Buy."
"Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY; 52-week range: $50 1/2 -$68) saw earnings rise 21 percent in 1990; we look for a 16 percent advance in 1991. This exciting company continues to offer excellent growth prospects. Buy."
"Chase Manhattan (CMB; 52-week range: $9 3/4 -$35 3/4 ) saw full year results come in at a deficit of $3.31 vs. a deficit of $7.94 last year. A meaningful recovery is still down the road. Speculative Hold."
"Coca-Cola (KO; 52-week range: $32 5/8 -$49) posted another record year in 1990 helped by strong international results. We estimate a 15 percent earnings advance to $2.25 a share in 1991. Buy."
"Conner Peripherals (CNR; 52-week range: $21 1/2 -$31 1/4 ) has declined recently due to earnings concerns. We believe the reaction is overdone. The stock now sells at only six times our 1991 estimate. Buy."
"Eastman Kodak (EK; 52-week range $33 3/4 -$43 7/8 ) had an eventful year in 1990. The stock is now priced at very attractive levels, has a solid 5 percent yield and solid prospects. Buy."
"Exxon (XON; 52-week range: $44 7/8 -$55 1/8 ) rose modestly in 1990. We anticipate that the ultimate settlement over the Valdez spill will be well within the firm's means. Hold."
FED. NATIONAL MORTGAGE
"Federal National Mortgage (FNM; 52-week range: $24 7/8 -$44 5/8 ) reported a banner year in 1990, with net per share rising 45 percent to $4.49. Earnings could approach $5 a share in 1991. Hold."
"Ford (F; 52-week range: $25-$49 1/8 ) had a difficult year and littl relief is forecast for 1991. Demand for new cars continues to soften. While management recently voted to maintain the dividend (now yielding 11.1 percent), we believe that it will be cut later this year. Sell."
"General Electric (GE; 52-week range: $50-$75 1/2 ) performed poorly last year. However, strength in long-cycle products, expansion overseas, productivity gains, and share buybacks should keep earnings rising at near double-digit rates. Buy."
"General Motors (GM; 52-week range: $30 3/8 -$50 1/2 ) continues to suffer from a sales slump. We believe that management will be forced to cut its lofty dividend in 1991. Sell."
"IBM (IBM; 52-week range: $94 1/2 -$123 1/8 ) has new products across its entire lineup. Expenses are under tight control. Net could top $11 a share in 1991. At 11 times earnings, the shares have rarely looked cheaper. Buy."
"McDonald's (MCD; 52-week range: $25-$38 1/2 ) faced serious price competition in 1990. However, favorable cost factors and strong international profits should help bolster 1991 earnings. Recession notwithstanding, the stock is a long-term value. Hold."
"Merck (MRK; 52-week range: $67-$91 1/8 ) had another record year in 1990. Earnings likely rose 20 percent to $4.55 a share; we look for a 16 percent gain in 1991. Buy."
"Pepsico (PEP; 52-week range: $18-$27 7/8 ) should see continued gains in its restaurant operations. This, coupled with a solid balance sheet, excellent cash flow and increased international opportunities, makes the stock attractive. Buy."
"Philip Morris (MO; 52-week range: $36-$53 3/8 ) should continue to thrive in the current recessionary environment. The firm holds a dominant position in its markets and generates substantial excess cash flow. The stock is reasonably priced at 11 times estimated 1991 earnings. Buy."