In the spirit of a true do-it-yourselfer, securities analyst Michael L. Mead of Scott & Stringfellow in Richmond has nailed down eight stocks that constitute what he calls the "home center" industry.

Mead's report is similar to the Beltway Technology Report that he has been writing for several years.

The latter tracks the stocks of a group of high-tech companies around the Washington area.

Mead plans to report on home center stocks every two months.

"We have been drawn to the home center industry by both the strong long-term growth rate of home repair and remodeling and the concentration of home center retail companies in the southeast," Mead said.

"We believe the average American homeowner will continue to spend money on improving and maintaining his home environment, not just because of a desire to create a more pleasant living situation, but because he or she recognizes the investment aspects of maintaining and improving the home.

"A house, for many people, remains their largest single investment," Mead added.

The eight companies in Mead's home center universe, which derive an important part of their sales from home center customers, are:

American Woodmark of Winchester, a manufacturer and distributor of kitchen cabinets, with annual sales of $116 million, of which about 40 to 45 percent is derived from home centers.

General Host of Stamford, Conn., a retailer of lawn and garden items as well as crafts. Annual sales were $347 million last year.

Hechinger Co. of Landover operates a chain of home centers throughout the mid-Atlantic states. Sales last year totaled $588 million.

Home Depot of Atlanta helped pioneer the warehouse format for home centers. The firm's chain of stores had $1 billion in sales last year.

Lowe's of North Wilkesboro, N.C., showed sales last year of $2.28 billion from stores across the southeast.

Payless Cashways of Kansas City, Mo. tallied recent yearly sales of $1.5 million from its full line of building materials and home center items.

Scotty's of Winter Haven, Fla. had recent yearly sales of $515 million in its chain of miniwarehouse and combination hardware-style stores and lumber yards.

Sunbelt Nursery Group of Fort Worth, a retailer of lawn and garden items, had recent annual sales of about $132 million.

As can be seen from the accompanying chart, all of the home center stocks were hit hard by the market's collapse on Oct. 19. Some of the stocks are trading at half their highs for the year.

In his assessment of the eight stocks, Mead said he would buy only two of the stocks at this time: Hechinger (A shares) and General Host.

Mead said he considers Hechinger "the most recession-resistant" firm in the group and believes General Host will benefit by rapid growth in the lawn and garden market.

"We would defer purchases in the majority {of stocks} in our universe, based on our belief that the current year's holiday retail sales will be soft and that interest rates will remain high enough to constrict builder-contractor business," he said.

One of Hechinger's advantages, Mead said, is that "it is a pure retailer, without the more cyclical builder-contractor component found in most home center chains."

Mead said he expects Hechinger's profits to grow at 20 percent or more a year and noted that the company is continuing to expand beyond its present 66 stores.

General Host, too, "is a pure retail play, with no significant builder-contractor business," Mead said.

But he added, "We consider the stock a longer-term play of 18 months to two years because of the relatively low level of current earnings."

Mead said he recommends the Hechinger A shares over the Hechinger B shares "because of the higher dividend per share of 16 cents versus 6 cents and the slight discount in the market at the time of this report."

Class A shares have one vote per share while class B shares have 10 votes per share.

While these are not happy days for stock pickers, a tradition is a tradition. So Legg Mason, the Baltimore brokerage house, has issued its 1987-1988 Thanksgiving list.

For eight of the last nine years, the Legg Mason picks have run ahead of the Standard & Poor's 500. Their best year was 1982, when the Legg Mason list was up 56.83, the Dow up only 20.46.

Their worst year, quite naturally, was 1987. The list they issued last Thanksgiving is down 4.03 percent, while the S&P survived the market collapse to finish up 3.47 percent.

The new Thanksgiving list contains the following 12 selections. The prices are as of Nov. 20.

Airborne Freight Corp. (ABF), $12.38.

Atlanta Gas Light Co. (AGLT), $21.63.

BAT Industries PLC-ADR, (BTI) $7.75.

Bergen Brunswig Corp. A shares, (BBC.A), $15.

Chrysler Corp., (C), $22.75.

Federal National Mortgage Association, (FNM), $29.13.

Figgie International A shares, (FIGIA), $48.

James River Corp. of Virginia (JR), $20.75.

K mart Corp. (KM) $29.

MNC Financial Inc. (MNCF), $32.75.

Salomon Inc. (SB), $17.75.

United Technologies Corp. (UTX), $31.

David E. Nelson, the research director at Legg Mason, said the firm made an effort to put together a diversified portfolio with performance characteristics that were as good as the market but for which they would pay less than a market price.

The 12 stocks seem to fit that criteria when compared with the S&P 400.

The price-earning ratio of the Legg Mason list is a low 7 times earnings, while the S&P 500 is twice as costly at 14 times earnings. The yield for the Legg Mason choices is 3.8 percent while the S&P yields only about 3 percent.

The dozen stocks also have a return on equity that is slightly higher than the market. And most of the stocks are selling at or slightly below their book value.

All of that, Nelson believes, adds up to good value. He notes that the Thanksgiving list is weighted toward the industrial sector, with less emphasis on consumer and financial stocks.