Super moment for investors

Indicator: According to the Super Bowl Stock Market Predictor, stocks will be rising this year.

January 27, 2001|By Stacey Hirsh | Stacey Hirsh,SUN STAFF

No matter who triumphs in the Super Bowl tomorrow, stock market players will come out a winner - at least according to one theory.

The Super Bowl Stock Market Predictor says the stock market will close the year higher if a team that was a member of the National Football League before its merger with the American Football League wins the game. This year, that means the market will be pumped up whether the Ravens or the Giants win.

You don't believe it?

The theory has proved about 82 percent accurate when measured by the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor's 500 index.

It's about 79 percent accurate using the New York Stock Exchange composite index, according to Robert Stovall, senior vice president and market strategist for Prudential Securities in New York and a developer of the Stock Market Predictor.

Stovall, who has tracked the correlation between Super Bowl winners and the stock market for more than three decades, said a victory for a team that has its roots in the NFL is a win for the stock market. A victory for a team with origins in the American Football League means a loss for the stock market, he said.(For nonfootball fans reading this article, the Ravens are considered an original NFL team because, even though they are in the American Football Conference, they used to be the Cleveland Browns, who were a part of the NFL before it merged with the AFL. The Giants were born in the NFL.)

This year is unusual in that two old NFL teams will battle. In the five other years when that has occurred - as when the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Dallas Cowboys in 1979 - the stock market went up each time.

"It's nice to see that the old Super Bowl Predictor is going to give us a buy signal," Stovall said.

Stovall said he has ties to Baltimore but will be rooting for the Giants anyway.

"I'm sort of ambivalent," he said.

Ravens fans who are in the business of making money will dispute strongly Stovall's preference about which team will triumph. They are, however, having a good time with his Stock Market Predictor.

"I think the Ravens are going to win - and if I didn't say win [Baltimore Mayor] Martin O'Malley would excommunicate me," said Charles W. "Pete" Shaeffer Jr., senior vice president of Tucker Anthony Capital Markets.

Shaeffer has even consulted with advisers (also known as co-workers) on the matter.

The consensus: Ravens 17, that other team 14.

Shaeffer's 28-year-old son, Bart Shaeffer, a loan officer for Mercantile Bank who lives and dies for the Ravens, is not as generous. He predicts that the Giants will score 6 points to the Ravens' 17.

But in the end, it's not the points that matter (except to the gamblers, of course), it's who wins and who loses.

"Whatever it is, we will be happy with a Ravens victory," Shaeffer said. "And we will be happy also with a positive stock market in year 2001."

Turning serious, Shaeffer predicts that the market will go up this year, but he does not attribute it to the Super Bowl. His theory is that the Super Bowl is about as much of a factor in the stock market as the first time a robin shows up in Patterson Park.

"It's fun," agreed Richard Cripps, chief market strategist for Baltimore-based brokerage Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc. "It's not taken, nor should investors take it, seriously. It's coincidence that it's turned out that way."

Others are equally skeptical.

"It's like anything else: It sounds good and it might work until it goes against you," said Andrew M. Brooks, a vice president and head of equity trading at T. Rowe Price Associates Inc. in Baltimore. "So it's sort of like reading the Farmers' Almanac to find out if it's going to rain on your wedding day."

Joe Gaeta, a principal at a local graphic design firm who will be rooting for the Ravens tomorrow, had not heard of the theory until this week and was surprised to learn about it.

"I follow the stock market," said Gaeta. "I wouldn't have even thought it had any relevance to either team winning the Super Bowl."

But at a pep rally for the Ravens this week, as a sea of purple fans gave a boisterous send-off to their hometown team, there was at least one in the crowd who was optimistic about the Stock Market Predictor.

"It's a win-win for the stock market," said Steve Somers, as he left the rally Monday. "Whoever wins - but it will be the Baltimore Ravens - the stock market will go up."

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