Dow up 20.81 to mark Ticker's 16th birthday

The Ticker

February 23, 1993|By Julius Westheimer

Ticker marked its 16th birthday yesterday with the Dow Jones industrial average gaining 20.81 points to close at 3,342.99. When this column was born on Feb. 22, 1977, the Dow index stood at 939.26, Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. sold around $8 a share, Delmarva Power & Light was $7, McCormick closed at about $2 (!) and Coca-Cola was $3, all adjusted for splits.

BIRTHDAY NOTES: When Ticker ticked its first tick 16 years ago this week, President Jimmy Carter had just taken the oath of office. Scanning an Evening Sun of that week, I note that gasoline cost 59 cents a gallon, a good tire sold for $15.95, a package of three golf balls cost $1.29, you could buy heating oil for 46 cents a gallon and a jumbo dry martini at the Chesapeake Restaurant ("Cut your steak with a fork, else tear up your check and walk out") cost $1.50 at the always-crowded North Charles Street eatery.

THE NEXT 16? "Change is the investor's only certainty." (The late Mr. T. Rowe Price, at lunch in the first Center Club, One Charles Center, 1962) . . . "The best profits will be made by buying good stocks and hanging onto them for the long run." (Burton Malkiel) . . . "In the long run we'll all be dead." (John Maynard Keynes) . . . "If you listen to everybody, you'll have results like everybody." (Overheard somewhere) . . . "The worst mistakes investors make is taking their profits too soon, and sticking with their losses too long." (1993 Stock Trader's Almanac) . . . "Eighty percent of the time it pays to be an optimist." (Sam Hopkins, Alex. Brown retiree) . . . "Looking ahead, remember that money doesn't always bring happiness. People with 10 million dollars are no happier than people with 9 million dollars." (Hobart Brown)

BIRTHDAY BITS: Many people ask, "Where do you get all that stuff?" The answer is: Mostly by keeping my eyes and ears open. Also, by carrying a pencil and note pad everywhere (including in my car, and I haven't had an accident yet), by subscribing to and reading 25 to 30 newsletters, newspapers and magazines every week and by lunching at spots all around the city -- in Dundalk, Catonsville, Towson, my native Pikesville and many other bars, grills and coffee shops in and around Baltimore.

HOW WE BEGAN: On Tuesday, Feb. 16, 1977, I asked Philip Heisler, then Evening Sun managing editor, to have lunch with me at The Center Club. He agreed, and we met on the following day. I nervously opened, "Phil, I have an idea how to put a bit more pep in the Monday financial pages, namely with a column called "The Monday Ticker," in which I would include news, views, short financial tidbits, a calendar, notes and quotes, local lingo and so on." Hesitating a moment, he said, "I'd have to see some samples," whereupon I replied, "I brought some with me." After reading a few he peered at me through horn-rimmed glasses and asked, "When can you start?" to which I quickly blurted, "Monday!" He responded, "Start" and today -- 16 years, 1,600 columns, about 1.6 million words later -- I'm just as enthusiastic about writing each column as I was then. Although Phil died many years ago, I will always remember him and his early show of confidence.

BIRTHDAY MEMORIES: Here are some of my favorite truths, half-truths, myths, witticisms, etc., that have appeared in Ticker over the past 16 years: "Let somebody else have the last 10 percent." (My father, a Baltimore stockbroker many decades ago) . . . "All beginnings are hard." (Leonard Eisenberg, an old friend) . . . Workplace Wisdom; "Don't insult the alligator until after you've crossed the river." (National Business Employment Weekly) . . . "Never sell good stocks in a bad market." (Irvin Westheimer, my father's "baby brother," the youngest of eight ,, brothers who died at age 102) . . . "The believer is happy; the doubter is wise." (Peter's Quotation Book) . . . "It's easier to stay out than to get out." (Author unknown) . . . "Your emotions are generally a good reverse indicator of what you should be doing in Wall Street" (Peter Lynch) . . . A highly successful executive told me that she never hires anyone, no matter how good his or her qualifications are, unless the applicant specifically says, "I really want this job." . . . "Hope is a good breakfast but a poor supper." . . . "The trees don't grow to the sky." . . . "The squeaking wheel gets the grease." . . . "Stock markets are ruled by two emotions: fear and greed." . . . "Don't put all your eggs in one basket." . . . "The bee that sticks close to the hive gathers no honey."

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