Richard Kulak stopped working at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday after an unusually hectic day in the stock brokerage business.
Yesterday, when he got off the elevator at his office in Springfield, the time was 8:15 a.m. And the telephones were ringing madly.
From that moment on, Kulak and more than a dozen sales representatives at Kulak, Voss & Co. Inc. were tied to the telephones. It was one of the two busiest days in stock market history and Kulak, Voss had its share of the volume - mostly orders to buy blue chip stocks.
"I'm too busy taking orders to talk," one of the salesmen told a customer. "No, I haven't had time to read The Wall Street Journal," said another, punching out stock quotations on a video display terminal.
"This is a blue chip market," said Kulak, in a brief respite from the telephone calls after some of his associates had joined him on the 12th floor of the Springfield Tower Office Building, overlooking the morning rush of cars north of Interstate 395 to Washington.
"The public finally has realized that stocks are the last thing that is cheap in America . . . for months, the blue chips on the New York Stock Exchange have been out of step" with advances in other stock arenas, such as the booming over-the-counter market, Kulak added.
According to Kulak and company chairman Stephen Voss, a sharp upswing at the New York Stock Exchange appeared certain several weeks ago. Both young brokers were bullish yesterday about the course of stock prices for the balance of 1978.
"After last year, the surprises this year can't be all bad," Kulak stated. Indeed, in his view, interest rates are at a peak and will start to head lower before Labor Day. Other "surprises" of 1978 that have been good, in Kulak's view:
The appointment of former Textron Chairman G. William Miller as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, who's "incredibly good at it."
Potential discovery of oil off the East Coast, with initial drilling by Texaco indicating some finding.
An improved trade balance outlook caused, in part, by the decline of the dollar - making imports here more expensive. A cheaper dollar also is attracting extensive foreign investment in U.S. companies.
A "more stable" Carter administration in the past six months.
Overall, Kulak forecast that the growing awareness of positive developments for the American economy will help push the Dow Jones average of 30 industrial blue chips up to at least 950 by year's end with a good chance to top 1050. To be sure, there will be occasional dips. And, at mid-morning yesterday with the Dow up more than 12 points on record volume, Kulak was advising some customers to wait before they bought shares. "The market's got to come back down a bit," he said, and it did.
Kulak, Voss opened early in 1973 as the Washington area's initial "discount" broker-charging commission rates for trading that are substantially less than those charged by most New York Stock Exchange-member firms.
Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith and other leading brokerages quietly increased commission rates earlier this year to a level estimated at 117 percent of minimums on May 1, 1975. Kulak, Voss commission rates currently range between 50 percent and 75 percent of the 1975 minimums.
Voss 29, and Kulak, 37, were part of a three-person office when they began. Today, the firm has 20 employes. Revenues have jumped from $125,000 three years ago to an annual rate now of $750,000, Voss said yesterday.
Although Kulak, Voss has among its customers many large investors, the brokerage has not been inundated lower commission rates. Voss said many investors "just don't pay attention" to the fees on their bills.
Kulak, Voss conducts most of its business by telephone with customers throughout the metropolitan area from its Northern Virginia suburban base which is cheaper to maintain than a downtown office.
Voss is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Virginia, where he majored both in psychology and economics. As a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, he later studied at the University of Michigan. He also spent some time in Las Vegas, studying gambling behavior. While not exactly parallel to investing, Voss said his work in gambling concepts - probability, expectations, etc. - helps him in the market.
His partner, Kulak, is a Notre Dame graduate who worked as a broker and analyst for Reynolds Securities after Army service. In between telephone conversations with customers yesterday, Kulak was busy on the phone with brokers and analysts from Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. He talks with them every day, exchanging hard facts on the market and gossip about companies.
Most of the company's business has been in over-the-counter common stocks but Kulak, Voss also executes trades in listed stocks, bonds, municipal bonds and options. Yesterday, however, the story was NYSE blue chips.
The Dow moved ahead smartly at the start, retreated, advanced again and finally pulled back for a gain of just 3.38 at 886.87, after Wednesday's big 22.78-point rise. Voss noted last night that the overall market was broadly higher. He said his firms's sale volume was "significantly heavier" than faced before.
An index of Washington areas securities, compiled by the Johnston, Lemon & Co. investment firm, hit an all-time high of 101.94 yesterday, compared with 100.822 the previous day. The 30-stock index contains a mix of NYSE, American Exchange and OTC issues.
Area NYSE stocks that advanced yesterday included Federal National Mortgage Association, to 19 3/8 from 18 7/8; First Virginia Bankshares, to 6 3/4 from 6 1/2; Garfinckel, Brooks Brothers, Miller & Rhoads, to 19 1/8 from 18 1/2; Macke, to 12 1/4 from 12; and Peoples Drug Stores, to 12 from 11 3/4.
Over-the-counter area stocks that rose included Government Employees Insurance Co., to 8 bid from 7 7/8; Government Employees Life, to 12 from 12 5/8; Mortgage Investors of Washington, to 3 7/8 from 3 and Quality Inn International to 4 1/2 from 4 1/4. On the Amex, Drug Fair climbed to 14 1/4 from 13 3/4 and Washington Post Co., yesterday's closing prices.
For Fannie Mae, Drug Fair and the Post Co., yesterday's closing prices were 1978 highs.