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Brokers' picks post negative returns



Published: Sun, January 6, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Stockbrokers posted negative returns of between 19 percent and 46 percent.

By DON SHILLING

VINDICATOR BUSINESS EDITOR

YOUNGSTOWN -- The slumping stock market proved too much for all five brokers in last year's stock-picking contest.

None produced positive results in a year in which the Dow Jones industrial average was off 7 percent and the Nasdaq was down 21 percent.

The brokers posted negative returns of between 19 percent and 46 percent.

This is the second straight year in which all brokers posted negative results. The picks in 2000 were dominated by technology stocks, which suffered greatly that year after big gains in the late 1990s.

Last year, most of the brokers diversified, picking communications, biotechnology, insurance and energy offerings along with technology stocks.

The results were similar to 2000, however, as only two of the 15 stocks picked last year were winners.

"We've had a very tough two years," said Beth Ann Hudzik-Moran of Salomon Smith Barney in Liberty.

Butler Wick: Barbara D'Alesandro of Butler Wick Corp. in Youngstown came out on top in 2001, but her hypothetical portfolio of $10,000 had decreased to $8,032.

She had the best results thanks to her selection of Barr Laboratories. This company's stock advanced 13 percent because it continues to expand its manufacturing of generic drugs and has a strong line of women's health products after the acquisition of Duramed, D'Alesandro said.

She said she is confident that her other picks, Cisco Systems and Amgen, are solid companies whose stocks will rebound.

Besides Barr Laboratories, the only other positive pick belonged to David Edwards of Sun America Securities in Liberty.

He selected Coastal Corp., a natural gas and petroleum supplier, which was acquired by El Paso Corp. in March. Coastal shareholders received stock in El Paso entities, which amounted to a 22 percent gain at the time of the deal and a 52 percent gain at the end of the year.

He said he had his clients sell his other two picks, Power-One and EMC Corp., in July.

Power-One, which makes surge protector equipment and generators, makes an excellent product but it has been hurt by the bad economy, he said.

EMC, which provides information storage, could produce a gain for shareholders if rumors that it is about to be acquired are true, he said.

Bad timing: Don Rodenbaugh of First Union Securities in Canfield would have had two winning picks if the contest had started Jan. 1. Two of his picks, WorldCom and Applied Materials, posted large gains the first couple trading days but then fell off. With the contest beginning Jan. 3, they each lost at least 19 percent.

Rodenbaugh said he wouldn't recommend buying WorldCom today but thinks it's worth holding onto. He said, however, that he still believes in his other picks, LSI Logic and Applied Materials, which make semiconductors.

He said companies that use semiconductors are going to deplete their inventories soon, which, along with an economic recovery, should mean a pickup in orders.

The results of Hudzik-Moran suffered because she picked Enron Corp., which had the worst performance of any stock on the New York Stock Exchange last year.

The stock price of the energy company fell 99 percent after it disclosed that it had improperly reported financial numbers and then filed for bankruptcy protection.

She said Enron's fall shows the importance of choosing a variety of stocks and spreading investments among stocks, bonds and cash.

She said she still thinks her other two picks, Amgen and Chubb, are strong companies that have long-term value.

Bob Vanes of McDonald Investments said his picks were hurt for varied reasons. Mallon Resources, a natural gas producer, fell because of the decline in natural gas prices.

Viacom, a media and entertainment company, suffered from the slowing economy and Sept. 11 attacks, which hurt advertising revenue and tourism, he said. Luminent, a fiber optic component producer, was hurt by the slowdown in fiber optic deployment and then was sold to MRV Communications, he said.

shilling@vindy.com




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