Woman guesses '92 Dow ender within 2 points

The Ticker

January 05, 1993|By Julius Westheimer

Propelled by a stronger dollar, lower interest rates and higher construction spending, the Dow Jones average gained 8.11 points yesterday, closing at 3,309.22.

Speaking of stocks, Barbara Byrnes of Baltimore won first prize in our 1992 Dow Jones forecasting contest with her prediction of 3,300, less than 2 points from the 3,301.11 final figure. The Dow industrials gained 132.28 points, or 4.1 percent, for the year. For other averages, see below.

Reached over the weekend, Mrs. Byrnes, a Bell Atlantic computer systems designer, said, "I really can't remember how I selected the winning number, but my husband and I just picked figures; he selected 3,064. I'm so excited!" Mrs. Ticker and I will take Mrs. Byrnes and her husband to dinner at their favorite restaurant, still to be determined, later this month.

Second prize goes to Julie Bennett, also from Baltimore, for her forecast of Dow Jones 3,303. Asked how she selected that number, she responded, "It has a combination of figures with our house number in it. Not terribly scientific, was it?" Mrs. Bennett and her husband will have lunch as our guests at the Brass Elephant, her favorite restaurant.

Next closest crystal ball gazers, who will receive financial books, are Charles L. Crest Jr., Towson (3,298); Irene Eddy, Reisterstown (3,296); Eugene Johnston, Camp Hill, Pa. (3,294); Mrs. Mary Mosetti (3,292); B. Loretta Vaeth, Cockeysville (3,311); Leona Jean Godley (3,311); Bernard Sachs, Glyndon (3,312); Charles Grimes Jr. (3,313); William Devilbiss, Glen Arm (3,313); and Mark Harold (3,313).

All winners are from Baltimore unless otherwise noted.

In our so-called "expert" category -- bankers, brokers, investment advisers, media stars, etc., where the only prize is glory -- the closest was Tom Marr, WCBM talk show host, at 3,300.

He was followed by Larry Adam of Dean Witter at 3,295 and Barry Salzman, Gruntal & Co., who predicted 3,275. Also close were Andy Barth, Channel 2 reporter; Dr. Jeffrey Schein, my dentist; Mrs. Manuele Wasserman, Prudential Securities executive; Richard Barbarita, PaineWebber manager; and James Hardesty, Mercantile-Safe Deposit & Trust Co. executive.

LOOKING BACK: The 1992 scoreboard shows these percentage gains: S&P 500 index 4.5; NYSE Composite 4.7; Amex 1.1; NASDAQ Composite 15.5. Bucking the trend, the Dow Jones utility index lost 2.3 percent. Locally, MNC Financial (Maryland National Bank) shot up from 4 7/8 to 12 7/8 , or 164 percent for the year, and USF&G jumped from 7 1/4 to 12 1/8 , a gain of 68 percent. On the gloomy side, IBM plunged from 89 to 50 7/8 , a drop of 42 percent.

LOOKING AHEAD: "Rising short-term interest rates will prove too attractive an alternative for stocks, and money will flow away from stocks and into the alternatives." (The Contrarian's View) . . . "Investors are encouraged to maintain current stock holdings. Buy on declines." (Dow Theory Forecasts) . . . "Talking of 1993, it is likely that many of the past decade's winners will top out or underperform and at worst could start full-fledged bear markets." (Professional Tape Reader) . . . "A down market is a big threat but important support is evident at Dow Jones 3,255." (Ripples in the Wave)

NEW YEAR NOTES: "A new-found optimism is reflected in the stock market, where high P/E multiples are proclaimed to be justified by low interest and inflation rates and earnings growth. However, much of this year's earnings increase was gained through corporate downsizing." (Rex Rehfeld, v.p., Gruntal & Co., Baltimore) . . . To get a reading on the safety of your credit union, call Veribanc ($10 an inquiry) at 1-800-442-2657) . . . "Mortgage rates are slipping, with the national average for a 30-year fixed rate loan at 8.07 percent." (100 Highest Yields, Dec. 28) . . . "With corporate profits picking up, dividends will be on the rise in 1993." (S&P Outlook) . . . Kiplinger Washington Letter says deficits will fall in the next several years because a stronger economy will raise tax receipts. . . . "Four little words that aren't heard often enough: You may be right." (Bits & Pieces)

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