Barron's Investment Outlook For 2006

Larry Holmes

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The November 12 issue of Barron's featured their “Outlook 2006" article. I always look forward to that issue because Barron's surveys a dozen or so of the top strategists on Wall Street to get their market predictions for the coming year.

Whatever these strategists think is what the brokers of their firms will likely be touting to the public. And since whatever the public is doing is usually the wrong thing to do, a better contrary indicator you will not find.

Here are some of my observations from the article. . .

  • Of the 12 analysts surveyed, 10 think the S&P 500 index will be higher for 2006 than it is now. Bullish predictions ranged from a low of 1300 (Chip Dickson of Lehman Brothers) to a high of 1530 (Ed Keon of Prudential). A more typical bullish forecast was in the 1350-1400 range. The median forecast was for a gain of 9%.
  • Only 2 of the 12 think the S&P will be lower - Richard Bernstein of Merrill Lynch (a modest decline to 1225) and Abhijit Chakrabortti of J P Morgan (a bearish 1125). Mr. Chakrabortti was the only outright bear.

  • They were asked to choose three of their favorite sectors for 2006. The most popular was health care, followed by technology and financials.

  • Only 2 of the 12 listed energy. And none of them chose basic materials (which would include gold and silver mining and commodity stocks).

  • They were asked to choose key themes for 2006. They were overwhelmingly partial to growth stocks over value stocks and large capitalization stocks over small capitalization stocks.

So if you want to go along with the crowd in 2006, you want to be bullish on the stock market. And your focus should be on large growth stocks in the health care, technology, and financial sectors.

But if you want to make money, you probably want to do something different. Like maybe invest in shares of small capitalization companies that are good businesses selling at bargain prices. And as far as sectors are concerned, Wall Street still seems to be ignoring the ongoing bullish prospects of energy and basic materials. That bodes well for those sectors.

Larry Holmes invites you to visit Your common sense guide for financial and investment success.


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