Just call me Santa Dorfman and toast me New Year's Eve when you're drinking your eggnog. This is my second straight column with a bullish slant to the 1980 stock market.
In my last one, a leading money manager predicted a happy new year for investors. His reasoning: We're not going to have a bad recession; therefore, he expects the 1980 economy (as well as corporate earnings) to be a lot better than people think.
But what about the technical side of the market? I'm talking about that fine art of charting future stock prices through the analysis of a wide variety of technical indicators. These would include the buying and selling activities of the so-called smart money (such as Big Board specialists and corporate insiders), the chart patterns of securities (which point up the flow of money in and out of equities) and the sentiment, as a contrary indicator, of the bevy of stock market advisers. Technical analysis -- whether you buy it or not -- has become a significant and growing force in mapping investment strategy.
For a technical view from a seasoned pro, I rang up Stan Weinstein, 38, the well-regarded publisher of The Professional Tape Reader, a Hollywood, Fla., investment adviser with an above-average record of calling market turns (both up and down). For example, in December of 1978, he predicted a rough first half for the '79 market, followed by a better second half. He also stated that energy stocks would be the market's No. 1 group in '79. He was right on both counts.
In a preview of his 1980 projections which he'll be firing off to some 8,000 public and institutional clients in about a week, Weinstein told me the overwhelming majority of his 40-plus technical indicators are decidedly bullish. And significantly, he says, these include some of his most important biggies. Accordingly, Weinstein -- with 12 years of technical analysis under his belt -- sees a lot more room for the market on the up side than on the down side. He expects the Dow Jones industrials to move at the very minimum above 900 (they were about 840 at press time) next year and possibly above 1,000. And at worst, he sees the DJI's downside risk limited to the 780-790 zone.
Here, in brief, is a reading of some of Weinstein's key technical indicators -- each of which has turned favorable -- that have made his so enthusiastic about the 1980 market.
The sentiment of investment advisers, as a group, is perennially wrong at major market turns; they're generally most bearish at market bottoms and most bullish at market tops. When the percentage of bullish readings (of nearly 100 advisers) falls to 40 percent or below -- which has happened just five times in the past 10 years -- substantial market rallies follow. The latest reading -- one of the lowest in more than five years -- is 36 percent.
A market rally that's not supported by good action in the Dow Jones utility index is suspect and usually doesn't go very far, Weinstein finds. The reason: Utilities are bought by stable, serious, longterm investors. The latest rally, which started from October '79 low of 790, saw the DJI recoup about 50 percent of the loss incurred during the September-October smash; however, the DJ utility index, in the very same period, recovered all of its fall. The clear inference: solid participation by serious investors returning to the market.
Weinstein's index of 22 leading glamour stocks (such as IBM, Disney and Burroughs) if forming a major bottoming-out pattern, foreshadowing a sharp upward move in 1980. Essentially shunned by institutional investors the past five years -- even though the price-earnings multiples of many have dropped from the 40-to-80 range of the early '70s to current levels of 11 to 14 -- the glamours are displaying greater strength than the general market. Importantly, Weinstein points out that this group -- one of leadership caliber -- could well provide the market with the leadership it's been sorely lacking the past several years.
Corporate insiders, who had been dumping their holdings at a brisk pace throughout the summer of '70 and into September, have sharply curtailed their selling to one of the lowest levels in the past year. This pattern generally coincides with the advent of healthy stock markets.
In his analysis, Weinstein rates the chart patterns of all Big Board and Amex issues. And he places them in four categories: Stage 1, the basing area, preparing for an upward move; Stage 2, the advance; Stage 3, the top area, hitting a peak; and Stage 4, the declining period. Weinstein goes through this exercise ever few months and says it gives him a good X-ray of the market's sub-strength. The latest reading is one of the most robust in several months: Close to 60 percent of all Big Board issues are healthy (in Stages 1 and 2) as are 65 percent on the Amex.
Assessing the chart patterns, Weinstein finds the strongest market groups are aerospace, chemicals, drugs, electronics, entertainment, hospital management and hotel-motel chains. The weakest: air freight, automakers, auto parts, consumer finance, home furnishings, soap and soft drinks.
What about the hot oil sector? As an overall group, Weinstein said he would lower it a notch to a hold, rather than an outright buy. And his analysis indicates that some oil stocks look downright dangerous. Chief among these are Charter Co., Louisiana Land and Mesa Petroleum.
The market's strongest stocks? Weinstein rattled off 12 names: Abbott Laboratories, American Cyanamid, Beverly Enterprises, Cessna Aircraft, Disney, Dow Chemical, Lockheed Corp., M/A Com, National Semiconductor, National Medical Enterprises, Rolm Corp. and Tesoro Petroleum.
The weakest: Charter Co., Dana Corp., Dr. Pepper, Echlin Mfg., Ford and Seaboard World Airlines.