Stocks choke on rarefied air


Up 29 points at lunchtime yesterday and briefly poking its head above 3,000, the Dow Jones average was unable to breathe the rarefied air and quickly fell back. At the closing bell, the DJ index was ahead less than one point, standing at 2,973.27.

LOOKING AHEAD: Want to know what stocks the "experts" pick for this year? Here are selections made around Jan. 1, l99l by some of the 28 panelists on "Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser." Each panelist was allowed up to l2 choices; no changes are allowed during the year:

Ralph Acampora (His selections ranked second last year and he leads for l99l to date): Bristol-Myers Squibb, Federal National Mortgage, Fruit of the Loom, Philip Morris, a "put" option on crude oil and a "call" option on the U.S. dollar. (Investors buy "put" options when they expect an investment to drop in price; they buy "call" options when they think a security will move higher.)

Eddie Brown: (Running second this year so far): Ahmanson, Baltimore Bancorp, Blockbuster Entertainment, Costco Wholesale, Fastenal, Golden West Financial, Harley-Davidson, The Limited, Medco Containment Service, Novell, Office Depot, Value Merchants.

Frank Cappiello: Blockbuster Entertainment, Boeing, Consolidated Freightways, Eastman Kodak, Health Images, Healthdyne, Jostens, McCaw Cellular Class A, Sea Containers, Tiffany, United Telecom, Wolverine Exploration $2.25 convertible exchangeable preferred.

Howard (Pete) Colhoun: Abbott Labs, American Software, Beckman, Cambrex, March & McLennan, Mentor Graphics, PayCo America.

Gail Dudack: 30-year Treasury bond, one-year Treasury note, Echlin, Hewlett-Packard, Occidental Petroleum, Pennsylvania Power & Light, Syms, Texas Utilities.

Monte Gordon: Colgate Palmolive, Disney, DuPont, Fluor, General Electric, I.B.M., Merck, Philip Morris, Procter & Gamble, Toys R Us, Walmart.

James Grant (No. 1 performer last year, with five "short sales" -- bets that stocks would tumble. His "shorted" stocks fell 59 percent. So far this year, he trails the pack.): He would "short" Household International, Marriott, Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo and oil prices. His positive "buy" recommendation is London Gold.

Louis Holland (No. 3 performer last year): Long-term U. S. Treasury notes, U. S. dollar, Federal National Mortgage, Valero Energy. Sell "short" Japanese yen, Cray Research, L. A. Gear, Live Entertainment, Manufacturers Hanover, Millicom.

Carter Randall: Barnett Banks, Community Psychiatric Centers, Fluor, Masco, DuPont bonds due 2001, AT&T; bonds due 2001, GMAC bonds due 2011.

Martin Zweig (No. 1 stock selector over past 10 year period): U.S. Treasury note due 1992, U. S. Treasury bond due l996, ASA, Detroit Edison, Upjohn, and he would "short" Midatlantic Corp.

BALTIMORE BEAT: Tomorrow night, locally produced "Wall Street Week" is all about housing prices and stocks . . . Wednesday, Security Analysts feature Bell Atlantic at the Tremont Plaza at noon . . . "Short on equity and facing other financial problems, Black & Decker made an unusual investment decision last March. It spent $47 million from a 40l(k) employee thrift plan on newly issued Black & Decker stock." (Forbes, March 4) . . . T. Rowe Price New Horizons Fund is spotlighted in Smart Money (March) under "Small Stocks Soar." . . . Legg Mason and McCormick stocks appeared in the 52-week "New High" column several times this week . . . First National Bank of Maryland says, "With the war over, consumer confidence should rebound which, combined with lower interest rates, would revive home and retail sales." . . . "Peoples' spending habits depend more on how wealthy they feel than with the actual amount of their current income." (A.C. Pigou) . . . Only 5 1/2 weeks left to finish your income taxes.

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