Lots to remember and celebrate on a column's 20th anniversary

The Ticker

February 19, 1997|By Julius Westheimer

THIS MORNING, with the Dow Jones industrial average standing at 7,067.46 -- a record high -- we mark the 20th anniversary of this column.

When The Ticker first ticked two decades ago, the Dow average stood at 939.26. In the 20 years since our debut -- 2,000 columns, 2 million words later -- the Dow has climbed 6,128 points, or 652 percent.

Adjusted for splits, here are Feb. 19, 1977, prices of well-known stocks, followed (in parentheses) by yesterday's closing prices. Decimals have been dropped:

Baltimore Gas and Electric $8 ($27) Coca-Cola $2 ($61) McDonald's $2 ($46) Merck $3 ($99) Procter & Gamble $10 ($124.)

The biggest shock of the 20 years battered Wall Street and Main Street on Oct. 19, 1987, when the Dow average unexpectedly plunged 508 points, or 23 percent.

Today the Dow stands about 5,300 points, or 300 percent, above its level on the night of the crash.

Over the past 20 years, the S&P 500-stock index and the Dow Jones industrial average produced average annual 10.5 percent returns.

Both indices handed investors more than triple the recent inflation rate.

If the S&P index advances at the same rate in the next 20 years as it did in the last two decades, it should reach 6,500 from its present level -- around 816. This index adjusts automatically for splits.

Because of the way it is calculated, the Dow Jones industrial average -- which is not automatically "split-adjusted" -- is impossible to project. But using a straight arithmetic projection, the Dow in mid-February, 2017, would stand at about 53,600, and that's not a misprint.

When The Ticker began, President Jimmy Carter had just taken the oath of office, The Sun (which was 15 cents) showed that high-test gasoline cost 58 cents a gallon, a package of three Acushnet Titleist golf balls cost $1.29, heating oil was 46 cents a gallon and a jumbo dry martini cost $1.50 in the Owl Bar of the Belvedere Hotel.

Judging from your comments, here are some favorite financial thoughts printed here over 20 years:

"The best investment results come from from buying good stocks and holding them over long periods of time."

"Change is the investor's only certainty."

"The worst mistake investors make is taking their profits too soon and sticking with their losses too long."

"Enjoy your money; this is not a dress rehearsal."

Many thanks to all our readers for your support, suggestions, ideas, etc., over the past 7,305 days.

Please continue to keep in touch.

Pub Date: 2/19/97

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