Once again, the wisdom of Wall Street's contrarians -- that ornery minority that refuses to go along with prevailing sentiment -- has proved reliable. In the aftermath of October's crash, there was a shift toward the bear side. Analysts who had been predicting 3,000 in the Dow Jones Industrial Average suddenly claimed they didn't mean that average couldn't go to 1,200 first. And pre-crash bears became more bearish still. As of April, the DJI had gained over 200% from its October 19 close. The bears, of course, never claimed it couldn't reach 2,200 first.
This time it wasn't the Blue Chips at the head of the procession. To the surprise of many, secondary stocks stirred from their long-term stupor and led a rally. The adjoining chart shows the INC. Index (now comprising 92 stocks gleaned from the 1988 INC. 100 tabulation) catching up with the S&P 400 in April, after having trailed it by about 15 percentage points the previous December.
But why bother doping out any of this when for several years now, the key to effortless profit has lain in IPOs? For example, whoever chanced an equal amount on the opening price of every January IPO over $1 was ahead 25% in March. At that rate, one could sell out and, like ancient Romans at the Coliseum, sit back and enjoy the bulls and bears have at each other until it's clearer who's going to win.