Taaking Stock / The Quick Dic of Bourse Babble

You can never know when it will end; but right now, the party's happening. How can you know? Because the jargon's back. In case you've already forgotten what the palaver portends, here are a few extracts from the Quick Dic of Bourse Babble.

"Distribution" - as in: "IBI distributed NIS 30 million worth of Metal Mania shares to institutionals."

Translation: After three years of drought, the shareholders can't believe their eyes. Is it a mirage? No! A year ago, they were tearing out hair over how to repay the banks. Now, institutionals are begging them to sell stock for double the price.

"Wait for the financial statement" - as in: "Yossi Socks and Sausages stock soared 250 percent in the last six months. Now, you have to wait for the financial statement before its stock can rise any further."

Translation: We need a new story to get that turkey to fly any higher. The treasury's economic program, the U.S. loan guarantees and the interest rates have done their bit. But we need a headline about improved profits to justify another 50 percent leap.

"You gotta be selective" - as in: "Stocks rose 50 percent in the last year. I suggest you be selective now; focus on chemicals and banks."

Translation: The market is red hot; everything's climbing; and whatever dog you latch onto will claw up on the market's back. The riskier the better, but do keep that analytical squint in your eye, for the sake of appearances. Repeating "selective" sounds good.

"We can't advise you" - as in: "Your deposit expired and interest rates are rock-bottom, but we are prohibited from dispensing advice."

Translation: Dude, you didn't hear it from me, but our bank's mutual funds are the best in the game. I'm not allowed to tell you so, but (wink, wink) take a look at that performance! Brother, the law won't let me tell you squat, but you get the picture, this is where you should put your money.

"The pension funds will become part of the market" - as in: "One of the treasury's most important reforms is to make pension funds part of the market this year."

Translation: Hey gang, there's fresh meat in town! The pension fund managers! They're trembling, eager young things - remember how we pushed dogs onto the provident funds back in 1993? Now it's the pension funds' turn.

"Balanced portfolio" - as in: "I suggest you keep your portfolio balanced, a third in shekel bonds, and a third in foreign currency."

Translation: Everybody knows that if there's profit to be had, it's from stocks. But we want to charge management fees on your whole portfolio, not only on the shares component. So let's build you a balanced portfolio.

"The Nasdaq will rise 10, maybe 15, percent this year" - as in: "I don't believe the Nasdaq will repeat its 2003 performance this year, but it will gain 10-15 percent because technology is still rebounding."

Translation: The market is boiling hot; I made 300 percent on VocalCodex Viroids; prices are insane and most of the companies are losing money hand over fist. But the momentum is overpowering and interest rates are crawling rock-bottom. We expect the Nasdaq to gain 200 percent, but we couldn't possibly justify that using any sensible economic model. Saying 10-15 percent sounds a lot more sensible.

"There are no alternatives" - as in: "The problem is that interest rates are so low. Deposits are generating 1-2 percent and net yields on bonds have tanked, falling to 5 percent. There are no low-risk alternatives, so stocks are looking mighty sexy right now."

Translation: The market's getting away from me; every week, it's up another 5 percent, and everybody and their dog is making money. Damn it, I want in.

"The market has matured" - as in: "Look, buddy, it isn't the same market any more. You can short shares; there are options on the Maof-25 index; there are analysts. It isn't the same old backwater."

Translation: The party's raging on and the madness is back, and it looks like just the beginning. But you gotta convince the clients it isn't just another wild ride that's gonna leave them breathless, and broke, while we're left holding our commissions.

"The public hasn't come back in yet" - as in: "Stock-based mutuals raised only a few billion shekels. The public's still stock shy."

Translation: Roll up, roll up, and get a move on! The smart money gets in just before the surge that will be caused by the general public finally getting into the mutual funds.

But when you finally decide to take the plunge, ask yourself whether you're the smart money getting in before the "general public", or if you are in fact a member of the general public who's buying the shares from the smart guys.