Special Report: Bulls vs. Bears

01/24/2003 12:00 am EST

Focus:

Bulls vs. Bears is a recurring feature in The Money Show Digest, in which we try to present a concise overview of the market outlook from our leading advisors. Our inclusion of both bullish and bearish commentary is not meant to confuse readers; rather, our goal is to reflect the diversity of opinion among those we cover. Here are some of the most cogent and thought-provoking bullish and bearish forecasts for stocks and bonds. (For detailed information regarding each advisor cited below, please click on their photo.)

Schaeffer, Bernie"I expect 2003 to be another bear market year," says Bernie Schaeffer, editor of The Option Advisor . "I expect the bulk of the damage to have occurred by mid-year or shortly thereafter, with a potential Dow low in the 5800-6000 area. I see the biggest cap names in the Dow and the S&P as being most vulnerable to major declines. These include Pfizer (PFE NYSE), 3M (MMM NYSE), Procter & Gamble (PG NYSE), Citigroup (C NYSE) and General Electric (GE NYSE). Over the past two years, the S&P 500 Index's January highs indeed proved to be the high points for the year. Therefore, it is not far-fetched to postulate that the Index's 2003 peak may have already come and gone. Meanwhile, I see Nasdaq and the techs as being the least vulnerable to a first-half slide; I am most bullish on the small- and mid-cap techs- the 'single-digit midgets.' In addition, I continue to believe that all investors should have at least 10% percent of their portfolios in precious metals stocks."

Pring, MartinMartin Pring , editor of the Weekly Intermarket Update , says, "Right now we need to concentrate on confirmation points. If the S&P can rally above 940, it would succeed in completing a potential base, as well as the November high. Such action would then call for a rally to 1100, a possible cap to the current mini-bull market. Bonds continue to look vulnerable. The March contract recently violated a 9-month uptrend line and completed a small head and shoulders pattern. The odds strongly favor much lower bond prices in the months ahead."

Brown, Janet"The good news is that when stocks finally recover, history shows that they tend to do so with a bang," notes Janet Brown, editor of No-Load Fund*X . "In 1975, rebounding from the 1973-1974 bear market, the Dow soared 38%. It was up 67% in 1933 after finally bottoming in 1932 following the crash. Research shows that since WWII, when the S&P 500 five-year average annual total return turned negative, as it was on 12/31/02, subsequent average annual total returns exceeded 14% in each following five-year period." Among the top performing funds currently recommended by Brown are FBR Small Cap Financial (GPRO); Gabelli Equity Income (GABEX ), a large-cap fund managed by value investor Mario Gabelli; T. Rowe Price Spectrum (RPSIX), an income-oriented fund of funds.

Leibovit, Mark"The weight of the technical evidence still points lower, perhaps dramatically, says Mark Leibovit, editor of The VRTrader . "If the situation with Iraq was to have a favorable outcome rather quickly, it would give the markets a psychological boost, which could lead to a substantial rally. But in the intermediate term it won't probably change much, because the Iraq situation is not what caused the economy's woes. These are due to overcapacity, excess debt, and reckless policies by the Fed. By the same token, an unfavorable outcome will exaggerate the negatives that are already present. In an uncertain geopolitical and economic situation, we are best advised to give the downside the benefit of the doubt. My gut feeling is that though we may see our sharp rallies, we are also going to see a greater washout. The strategy would be to either sit in cash or short rallies."

Prechter, Robert "I am a staunch deflationist," says Robert Prechter, editor of The Elliott Wave Theorist . "There is strong evidence that the last beneficiaries of credit inflation are topping out. The housing market probably topped in the summer of 2002. The Dow is finishing its upwave, with a bear market rally. Gold has reached its upside target, and commodities have rallied persistently for 15 months. These events appear to be the results of the last gasp in the old inflationary trend, which means that the 70-expansion of the credit supply is also at its end. Whether or not my deflationary forecast proves correct, conservative investors should focus on safe, interest-bearing cash equivalents. We had three fantastic years betting on the bear and 2003 should be the best yet (from a bearish perspective) with the stock market declining more this year than in 2000, 2001, or 2002."

Cook, Mark"Can the bulls make a stand?" asks Mark Cook, editor of the daily e-mail trading service, The Cook Advisory .  "The short term market is very oversold and it is a probability more than a possibility that there will be somewhat of a bounce.  We must make a full recovery of at least 20 points on the S&P to be noteworthy.  If we cannot do this, then the next leg down could be sharper and quicker.  For now, the oversold condition in the short term has prompted me to recommend that we take the profits in our short position.  A rally, however, could set up another good shorting opportunity. Bonds have gotten even more severely overbought.  We are seeing a market that is fear driven and this provides little foundation for prices once fear abates.  Any rallies in equities should translate to a fallback in bond prices quickly and steadfastly."

Murphy, John"We see continued evidence that we may be in store for additional downward pressures," says John Murphy, editor of Stockcharts.com.  "The Dow has put in place a lower high and is penetrating its 50-day moving average intra-day. The daily MACD is rolling into negative territory and the Stochastic lines have yet to alleviate their overbought condition, both of which are negative signs. Meanwhile, Dow theorists won't take much comfort from recent action. The Dow Transports have crashed to a three-month low on rising volume. And prices are falling on heavier volume. As a result, the On Balance Volume (OBV) line has already broken its December low. That greatly increases the odds that the Industrials will do the same shortly. It's not a good sign when the Industrials and Transports are falling together."

Busby, Tom"US Government bonds are the safest investment," says Tom Busby, of the Day Trading Institute .  "Bond futures are clearly in an up trend. Current resistance is at 114-00 with short term support at 108-16, then 106-00. A break of 115-00 would more than likely send the equity markets much lower, testing the October lows which could lead to much lower prices. A break of this resistance would also send bond futures much higher as investors rush to sell stocks and place their cash into safer vehicles. With the Iraqi war and poor economy looming over the markets, investors are finding it difficult to place more money into the equity markets. The scramble for safer investments has driven bonds much higher, with no top in sight."

Fried, DavidAdds David Fried, editor of The Buyback Letter , "We estimate downside risk to be less than average right now. Think back to the beginning of the year 2000 when the markets were just the opposite of what they are now. New highs were being hit every day and everyone was euphoric. Anyone who joined the party at its peak, when it was most popular, has done horribly. Now stocks are unpopular and few want to join the party. Looking back, there haven't been four straight down years since the Great Depression. And looking forward, we are just beginning the third year of the presidential cycle, historically the strongest year for the stock market."

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