T. Rowe Price expects stocks to continue higher despite Asia Testa calls impact 'just not dramatic or frightening'; Investing


Top executives at T. Rowe Price Associates Inc. said yesterday that they remain bullish about prospects for the U.S. stock market, even though it has been rattled in recent days by political and economic unrest in Asia.

While problems in Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia are expected to continue dampening profits at some U.S. corporations this year, their economies are "really minuscule" and shouldn't have a big impact on the United States, said M. David Testa, vice chairman and chief investment officer of the Baltimore-based mutual fund company.

"There is an impact, it is just not dramatic or frightening," Testa said.

"We are still basically optimistic about equity investing. We see moderate gains."

Testa made his comments to about 130 institutional clients attending a Price investment symposium at the Baltimore Convention Center yesterday.

A big concern of the Price managers is whether China and Japan can stabilize their huge and struggling economies. Japan is in terrible shape, with bankruptcies rising and bad loans mounting on the books of its largest banks.

China's economy is slowing, and there are clear signs of over-building, said Christopher D. Alderson, a portfolio manager at Rowe Price-Fleming International.

However, Alderson is optimistic that China can resolve its problems before stumbling further. "We think it is going to hold," he said.

George A. Roche, Price's chairman and president, kicked off the symposium by talking about the company's strong growth. Assets under management reached $139.3 billion March 31, up 12 percent since the year began.

Roche reiterated that the company wants to remain independent despite the raft of acquisitions in the financial services industry.

"Every week seems to bring another merger announcement," Roche said. "We have every intention of remaining an independent company. We see no reason to become part of a larger institution."

Pub Date: 5/29/98

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