PICKING ON THE MARKET

Physician's Money Digest, March15 2003, Volume 10, Issue 5

This year may be the year of thestock-picker, according to marketprofessionals. After 3 losing years,financial experts are wary of predicting a general upturn, citingunknowns like a possible war withIraq, the direction of the economyand interest rates, and whetherthere will be a change for the betterin the profit picture. Another wildcard is the need for many largecompanies like GM, Ford, andBoeing to plow profits into underfundedpension programs. Somesectors that might shine through thegloom are pharmaceuticals, biotechs,and HMOs, but avoid buyinginto a single company that tanks bychoosing a health-oriented mutualfund instead. If you buy individualbonds, you should know that thespread between interest rates ofshort-term and long-term bonds isat historic highs. Bond watcherssuggest that you go for the longestmaturity you feel comfortable with.