Rely On Long-Term Trends

Larry E. Folmar, president and chief executive officer of Southfield, Michigan—based Folmar Financial Group Inc., is cautioning his clients to expect the financial markets to be unstable for the next two or three years. Folmar, whose firm provides investment and money management services, says instability will be the rule because “America’s economy is still making the transition into the technological age. Some companies have transformed their infrastructure with the latest technology, but others have a way to go.” Additionally, he says, “The global marketplace is offering companies the chance to manufacture goods cheaper elsewhere, as well as the opportunity to buy goods and services at a reduced cost. So there is an economic readjustment taking place.”

To counteract the economic uncertainties, Folmar, a registered representative of Mutual Service Corp., selects stocks that are leaders in their sectors — companies with favorable supply and demand indicators and a superior performance relative to others in their sector. And dividend-paying stocks get special attention. “My strategy is not to look at short-term indicators, but rather long-term trends,” he says. “I don’t get involved in trying to make a quick profit.”

One stock that Folmar says fits his criteria is Eaton Vance Corp. (NYSE: EV), a Boston-based financial services company that provides investment management solutions to individuals and institutions. Folmar purchased the stock more than five years ago and says it held its own during the recession. Now he thinks that when the economy improves, the company will benefit from that upward trend. Another appealing aspect of the stock is that the company pays a dividend of almost 3%.

Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT), the leading manufacturer and licensor of software products, is another company with attractive dividend yields. Last year, the company raised its dividend to 32 cents per share, but the move didn’t improve the stock price. Folmar expects Microsoft’s stock price to increase during the next year because the company is “constantly evolving. Not only as developers of software for computers but as developers of the Xbox video game console.”

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE), a pharmaceutical company that manufactures and retails prescription and over-the-counter medicines for people and pets, is expected to lose as much as $9 billion in revenues in the next four years as patents on some of its most lucrative drugs expire, including blood pressure medicine Norvasc, allergy medicine Zyrtec, and antidepressant Zoloft. And news that potentially links Pfizer’s arthritis drug, Celebrex, to heart attacks and strokes has hurt the company further. But Folmar believes in Pfizer because competing pharmaceutical companies are facing similar challenges. “Pfizer has adequate finances and competitive products. Last year, the company bought Esperion Therapeutics Inc., and I don’t think we’ve really seen the positive manifestation of that acquisition yet.”

Folmar says Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) should profit from its introduction of the Ford Escape Hybrid, an environmentally friendly SUV that gets great gas mileage. He also points out that many of the automaker’s models, which include Aston Martin, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercury, and Volvo, are selling well.