Q. Recently, my broker recommendedd Bausch & Lomb as a good stock. What's the near- and long-term outlook?
A. All the necessary positives are in focus.
Buy shares of Bausch & Lomb (around $88 a share, New York Stock Exchange), the vision care and instruments firm, because they are still trading at a discount despite the company's strong 15 percent annual growth rate, said Ruth Alon, analyst with Kidder Peabody & Co.
Among its products are Soflens contact lenses, ReNu lens solutions, Ray-Ban sunglasses, telescopes and binoculars.
"Bausch & Lomb continues to show a strong bottom line and good financial management, as well as a good consumer franchise for its products," said Alon. "It has proven that it could perform even during a recession, a point that investors should keep in mind."
Q. My wife and I have owned 200 shares of Chrysler Corp. for 10 years. We're beginning to wonder if now is a good time to sell, given the many pressures the company is under. What would you recommend?
A. Even No. 3 should benefit from an improved economy.
Hold your shares of Chrysler Corp. (around $13, NYSE) on the likelihood that economic recovery will benefit all of the stocks in the automobile group, advised Wendy Beale Needham, analyst with Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co.
Sales should pick up during the course of the year, with production accelerating more rapidly than sales due to the fact so much inventory liquidation has already taken place, explained Needham.
"While General Motors is the strongest candidate to benefit from upturn, Chrysler stock should also receive the positive effects of any auto recovery euphoria," said Needham.
Q. What are the prospects for Mattel Inc.?
A. Ties to Mickey Mouse should help.
Prospects for toymaker Mattel Inc. (around $26, NYSE) are just so-so for the medium term, but rather good long-term, said Harold Vogel, analyst with Merrill Lynch & Co.
The company makes the Mattel/Disney infant and preschool lines, including items such as Ride-On Mickey. It is famous for dolls such as Barbie and P.J. Sparkles and various action figures. About 85 percent of its sales are toys for girls, which have given up much less market share to Nintendo's video games than boys' toys have.
"Mattel has a solid product line," said Vogel. "In addition, it will benefit from the Euro Disney opening next spring, where so many specialty toys will be sold."
Q. My grandfather purchased stock in American Superpower Corp. of Delaware in 1934. I'd like to know if this company is still around, and if the 50 shares he owns are worth anything.
A. American Superpower Corp. sounded like a detective firm started up by comic book superheroes Superman and Batman.
It changed its name to Webb & Knapp Inc. in 1952, with offices on Madison Avenue in New York. Yet even under its new title, it had to file a bankruptcy petition in 1965. A plan of reorganization was confirmed in 1972.
No equity remained for shareholders, and your grandfather's shares unfortunately are worthless, according to Barbara Fisher, securities research specialist with the New York-based R.M. Smythe & Co. stock-search firm.
Q. In our rush to meet the April 15 deadline, my husband and I forgot to sign our names on the federal tax return. What steps does the Internal Revenue Service take at this point?
A. If you fail to sign a return, it technically is not a completed return, said Garry Moody, tax partner with Ernst & Young. This subjects you to the failure-to-file penalty of 5 percent on any tax due on a return.
"In practicality, it is quite possible that the IRS may catch the unsigned return, put it into a suspended mode and send it back to you," said Moody. "The IRS will likely ask you to return it within 10 days signed, then treat it as though it was filed in a timely fashion."
Q. What is your opinion of the stock of Shelby Williams? I've had some luck with this stock in the past and I'm thinking of buying it again.
A. Shelby Williams (around $8, NYSE), a major manufacturer of seating and furnishings to the restaurant and lodging industries, has been suffering lately due to the recession.
Slow sales and overcapacity in the hotel/motel business resulted in a slight decline in earnings, noted Richard Wholey of Chicago-based Wayne Hummer & Co.
"I'd buy Shelby Williams stock, for its earnings could double over the next few years as it benefits from economic recovery and reduced expenses," said Wholey. "At its current price, the stock is a bargain."
Q. Friends have been telling me about Navigators Group stock. What do you know about it?
A. Navigators Group (around $33, over the counter) is yet another firm under earnings pressure due to the economy, but could be a good long-term bet for patient investors seeking capital gains, said Sharon Conway, based in Chicago with A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc.
The company is a property/casualty insurer specializing in underwriting marine, aviation and some non-marine risks. It participates in and reinsures some members of insurance pools managed by affiliated companies.
"Although 1990 revenues increased by 19 percent, earnings per share were down 4 percent due to 25 percent higher expenses and a slower-than-expected market turnaround," concluded Conway. "Navigators Group should benefit from an economic recovery, but will be under pressure until that occurs."
Andrew Leckey answers questions only through the column. Address such inquiries to Andrew Leckey, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.