Fri07252014

Business & Real Estate

Making predictions is losers

When the Federal Reserve trimmed its aggressive bond-buying program last month, it determined the way stocks should go in the near future.

When Fed officials suggested that the key interest rate would stay near rock bottom longer than promised, it proved a plus for the economy and the labor market.

Making stock market predictions is a game for losers because the market forges its own direction and change is the one constant for investors.

Many top Wall Street analysts see a sense of normalcy returning to the financial markets in 2014. As the Fed reduces its monthly bond buying, interest rates will edge higher. Fed officials said they would consider a plan to raise short-term rates once unemployment drops to 6.5 percent from the current 7 percent.

Inflation is expected to remain low, with a 1.7 percent increase forecast for the Consumer Price Index in 2014. The Fed’s inflation projection is 2 percent, which could change the investment climate.

As interest rates begin to climb, it becomes important to avoid utilities, financials and telecom stocks.

In 2014, investors concerned about a correction will bail out of stocks at the first sign of trouble, and the bears will start a downward price trend.

The bulls, meanwhile, are sitting on the fence and will respond to the market moves and put more money into stocks, driving prices higher.

The coming year will be the year for volatility, and astute investors should play the game without becoming frustrated with daily up-and-down prices.

A Town Crier “50” stock recently made headlines.

LSI Corp. (LSI; $10.99), the San Jose-based maker of storage chips used in data centers and flash drives, agreed to be sold to Avago Technologies Ltd. last month.

The Singapore-based Avago paid $6.6 billion in cash. Both boards have agreed to the transaction, scheduled to close in the the next few months. The purchase price amounted to $11.15 per LSI share.

LSI President and CEO Abhi Talwalkar said the deal provides “immediate value to our stockholders and offers new growth opportunities for our employees to develop a wider range of leading-edge solutions for customers.”

LSI, founded in 1981, has approximately 5,000 employees and annual sales in the $2.5 billion range.

The LSI acquisition is the second transaction of its kind in the industry. Earlier in 2013, Applied Materials Inc. purchased Tokyo Electron Ltd.

Analysts foresee more chipmakers in Silicon Valley consolidating their operations. Sergis Mushell of research firm Gartner Inc. said he thought that LSI had been looking for a buyer for some time.

Clyde Noel is a Los Altos resident and longtime investor in stocks.

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