Jitters over Mexico send Dow down


January 31, 1995|By JULIUS WESTHEIMER

U.S. stocks posted a broad decline yesterday amid concern over the effects if Congress doesn't approve a Mexican loan-guarantee package soon. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 25.91, to 3,832.08, extending Friday's 12.45-point loss.

LOOKING BACK: Here are average annual percentage growth figures for investments over the past 20 years: Stocks up 13 percent; bonds 10; stamps 9; Treasury bills 8; diamonds 8; housing 6; (overall inflation rate 6); farmland 5; gold 5; oil 3; silver 1. (Figures rounded). Data from Evans Group, Boca Raton, Fla.

LOOKING AHEAD: "Assuming that the decline in the Dow Jones industrial average only equals that in the utility index, investors soon may be looking at Dow 2,700." (Investment Quality Trends) . . . "Overall insider action continues to paint an impressive picture of confidence. We can't remember a stretch of time where investors have shown a greater tendency to put money to work in their own shares than in the second half of last year." (CDA/Investnet Insiders' Chronicle.)

REMEMBERING DAD: My Father, Milton F. Westheimer (1872-1956), an investment banker who was born 123 years ago today, shared much financial knowledge with me (I wish I had listened to more of it). Samples: "If in doubt about making an investment, don't make it. . . . Never sell short, buy on margin or vTC speculate in stocks or you will go broke. . . . Listen to experienced professionals, and don't take 'curbstone' advice. . . . If you make a mistake, correct it quickly. . . . One dollar invested on 'Black Friday,' when brokerage firm telephones are silent, is worth $10 any other day."

HOPEFULLY HELPFUL: "If you can't pay the tax shown on your return, ask to pay the balance in monthly installments. Fill out IRS Form 9465 (Installment Agreement Request) and staple it to your return. This gets you an extended payment period up to 36 months. The IRS must respond to your request within 30 days. If you owe less than $10,000, you shouldn't have a problem. If over $10,000, see your accountant for papers you must file." ("Stand Up to The IRS" by Frederick Daily, tax attorney.)

OOPS: Speaking of taxes, the IRS help line (1-800-829-1040,) operates 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, not seven days a week as appeared in Ticker last week. Sorry.

WHAT YOU SAID: Although our 1995 Dow Jones forecasting contest is closed now, here are some of your postcard comments: "I predict Dow Jones 4,625 by year-end. Republicans control Congress and progress will allow market to climb late this year." (Bill Cess, Catonsville). . . . "I say 3,925, one higher than Mrs. Ticker's prediction. She always appears to be on the money." (Herbert Press, Columbia). . . . "I forecast 3,936 -- my address plus the postage (20 cents) to mail this card." (Joseph Naujokas, Owings Mills) . . . "I predict 4,500, but if I win I'd like cash instead of dinner. I'm a new investor and need the money." (Mohammed Siddiqui, Balto.)

MONTH-ENDERS: "February in Wall Street has historically been a virtual standoff month, with the S&P composite index edging up 0.1 percent on average over the past 44 years." (1995 Stock Trader's Almanac). . . . And today's (Jan. 31) quotation from the almanac reads, "From listening comes wisdom, and from speaking repentance." (Italian proverb). . . . "CNBC TV commentator Dan Dorfman on Coca-Cola: 'The company may buy Quaker Oats.' Coca-Cola on Dan Dorfman: 'He's clueless.' (Business Week, Jan. 30.)

MONEY SAVER: "If you're one of those car buyers who is looking to cut corners wherever you can, the following list -- the 10 cars that carry the lowest insurance premiums -- is for you. The list: Ford Aspire, Chevrolet Cavalier, Saturn (wagon), Dodge/Plymouth minivan, Subaru Justy, Ford F150 pickup, Saturn, Ford Escort (wagon), Ford Taurus (wagon) and Volkswagen Golf. One word of advice: Don't bother shelling out for a Porsche 911; that's the most costly car to insure." (State Farm Insurance via Smart Money, February)

NOTES & QUOTES: Want to learn all about 'insider trading' and the traders who do it? Read a fascinating new book, "Secrets of The Street: The Dark Side of Making Money," by Gene Marcial, $20. ("Wall Street runs on information, and if you don't have connections, you are a 'turkey,' an outsider trying to play an insider's game.") . . . "Keep it simple. That strategy will best serve fixed-income investors trying to put a disastrous 1994 behind them. For risk-averse investors, that means sticking to plain old Treasury bills, notes and bonds. At the present time, Uncle Sam is looking generous indeed." (Fortune, Feb. 6, in a story, "Investing Strategy: Tiptoeing Into Treasuries.") "Make up for your boss's weaknesses. The more ways you can cover your boss, the more he/she will value you. If he's a poor writer, offer to ghostwrite. If he hates public speaking, volunteer to fill in. If he is forgetful, follow up important meetings with memos." ("Getting Results" by Michael LeBoeuf, $10.)

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