Only 4 days remain in our contest to win dinners and lunches for two as guests of Mr. and Mrs. Ticker. Mail your forecast for the Dow Jones closing average on Dec. 31, 1992, on a postcard (no letters accepted), postmarked by the extended closing time of midnight Thursday. Print your number (no decimals), name, address and home phone number. Give reasons if you wish but they are not required. One card per person. Mail cards to Dow Jones Contest, P. O. Box JW-6000, Evening Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278. Winner wins dinners, runner-up lunches. Next 10 receive new books about investing. Get busy!
EARLY MAIL: Entries so far include: "I say DJ 740. Inconceivable stocks will remain at record levels while economy spirals from recession to depression." (Henry Schwartz). . . . "Recession is over. Market has nowhere to go but up and away. Dow 3,681." (William Sonderman). . . . "Looking for a turnaround to economic growth in second half. I predict DJ 3,427." (Frank Loeffler). . . . "I say 3,536, my age at beginning of this year and at the end." (John Smith). . . . "Age 17. I'll say 3,456. I'd like to outguess Mom and Dad." (Kristin Svehla).
CEO CORNER: Thomas Riley, CEO, Alpha Receivable Service, says, "the recession forced many firms to deal with customers who are marginal credit risks, but in their aggressive collection policies they often lost much repeat business. Our program combines sound credit policies with strong customer service. We're growing because our main focus is to keep our customers happy, doing whatever it takes. That's more important than adding new clients. Also, we have a 'value added' policy, meaning everything we do must add value to our customers' businesses. That comes before our own profit." (Riley added, "reading your columns and listening to you on radio about the importance of good service gave me the idea which culminated in the formation of this firm.")
HOPEFULLY HELPFUL: If you are interested in credit card rates below 14 percent, write Ram Research, Box 1700, Frederick, Md., 21702, or phone the firm at 410-695-4660. Ram's "CardTrak" ($5) lists 15 nationally available "gold credit cards" with variable rates below 14 percent as of Dec. 15 and probably lower now, available to families with household incomes over $30,000. You may find other low credit rates in Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine, February issue, on newsstands this week.
BALTIMORE BEAT: Pointing to a cigarette vending machine in a suburban shopping center, a Baltimore cardiologist told me, "80 percent of heart problems I treat come from people who smoke. Other bad habits aren't nearly as deadly." . . . The owner of a Pikesville spaghetti eatery says, "We don't feel the recession; low prices and a lot of food is what people want these days." . . . Poster at an American Airlines ticket counter, "If you don't fly first class, your children will." . . . Aaron Finkelstein, Ace Uniform Rental Services, told me, "Around holiday time things were better, but now layoffs are way ahead of uniform add-ons again. It's rough out there, autos terrible, but a few bright spots in biotech, environmental and courier services." . . . T. Rowe Price International Bond Fund is listed under "Top Taxable Bond Funds" in Money magazine, February. . . . Westinghouse Electric is listed under "Companies With the Highest Yield" (8.9 percent) in Business Week. . . . I will answer your financial questions on "Lunch With Allan Prell" Wednesday, 12:15 to 1 p.m., WBAL radio. . . . Looking ahead, February in Wall Street has edged slightly higher, on average, over the past 40 years.