Ralph J. Acampora, one of Wall Street's most enthusiastic bulls, recently pulled in his horns on projecting further gains.
Mr. Acampora, director of technical research at Prudential Securities Inc., predicted last June that the Dow Jones industrial average would reach 8,700 by yearend.
However, the self-described "raging bull" reduced his target last Thursday because his analytical model showed deterioration in an increasing number of industry sectors.
"I saw that earnings could be severely impacted by the problems overseas," he said, "so the Dow could reach 8,600 or fall to a low of 6,000."
Last Friday, the Dow average was trading below 7,700.
And two weeks ago in his office, Mr. Acampora said he wasn't even sure about bank stocks-on which he has long been highly bullish.
At that time, banks were down substantially for the day-particularly the money-centers.
"I have liked banks for three years," said Mr. Acampora. "But right now I can't comment on them; I'm still trying to figure out where all the dead bodies are."
Translation: More technical research is now needed.
Unlike fundamental analysis, which examines core earnings, revenues, and other fundamental balance sheet elements, technical analysis forecasts price movements by analyzing trading volume, supply and demand, shorter- term and long-term market trends, and other market-related factors.
In the last three years, technical analysis has gained more prominence on Wall Street, particularly after Mr. Acampora's consistently accurate predictions about the performance of the Dow Jones industrial average.
But Mr. Acampora is not counting banks out, particularly the regionals, which he has previously seen as the best bet in town.
In fact, banks survived his latest round of grueling analysis, while other market and investment sectors, such as gold and railroads, were cut.
"Those industries have severely underperformed the market and will continue to do so," said Mr. Acampora.
However,"domestic banks have no foreign exposure and then they are takeout candidates. Furthermore, the interest rate environment is favorable."
Some of his favorite banks are: Hibernia Corp., New Orleans; BankBoston Corp.; and Banc One Corp., Columbus, Ohio.
He pointed out that shares of banks with significant exposure to Asia, such as Citicorp, Bankers Trust New York Corp., and J.P. Morgan & Co., will continue to be volatile next year.
Perhaps Mr. Acampora's best-known prediction was that the Dow Jones industrials would reach 10,000 by June 1998. Now, however, he has pushed that target into 1999.
"In the middle of the year I raised my target to 10,000 in April because at the time everything was exploding on the upside and the Nasdaq looked just gorgeous," recalled Mr. Acampora. But "in October just before the turmoil in Hong Kong, I saw deterioration in 23 out of 91 companies on the Standard & Poor's index that made me a little concerned."
Mr. Acampora added that after the turmoil in Southeast Asia, the number of companies suffering deterioration increased.
"That's when I decided to change my target," he said, "and went from a raging bull to a prudent bull."
Mr. Acampora initially rose to prominence in 1995 when he accurately predicted that the Dow Jones industrial average would hit 7,000 that year.