Friday, January 26, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, January 26, 2001

Super Bowl Predictor on a losing streak

Super year predicted for markets

Associated Press

NEW YORK — The stock market is virtually assured of scoring a touchdown this year.

Well, that’s what Wall Street’s so-called Super Bowl Predictor would suggest. No matter which team wins Sunday’s match — the New York Giants or the Baltimore Ravens — people who believe in this unscientific yet surprisingly successful gauge say the market can’t lose.

First a playbook refresher: The Super Bowl Predictor says that when a team from the original National Football League (as it existed before its 1970 merger with the American Football League) wins the Super Bowl, stocks will rise. Most teams from the old NFL, including the Giants, now are in the new NFL’s National Football Conference.

Conversely, in years that a team from the American Football Conference (many of whose members are AFL teams) wins, the market supposedly is headed down.

The Super Bowl Predictor has scored correctly more than 80 percent of the time, fumbling just six of 34 matches, but including the past three.

"I don’t think I have been accurate on 80 percent of my predictions. I wish I could say I have been," said Robert Stovall, strategist for Prudential Securities and the self-named guardian of the Super Bowl Predictor.

The Super Bowl matchup this year bodes well for the market — both teams have ties to the old NFL.

The Giants are an original NFL team. The Ravens are a new team in the AFC, but they have an NFL heritage, because they used to be the Cleveland Browns. The Browns were one of three original NFL teams that switched to the AFC as part of the merger.

So, "it’s gotta be win-win," for the market, said Arthur Hogan, chief market analyst at Jefferies & Co.

Hogan appreciates the Super Bowl predictor because he says it shows how unpredictable the markets are. He likened it to the notion that a monkey throwing darts could just as easily pick winning or losing stocks.

But like the stock market, the predictor — 0-3 for the past three years — could use a lift.

The market defied the predictor in 1998 and 1999, rallying although the AFC’s Denver Broncos won. And despite last year’s win by the NFC St. Louis Rams, the market got tackled.

"It is pure coincidence," scoffed Ricky Harrington, technical analyst for Wachovia Securities. "I have never considered it a serious market indicator."

Others aren’t quite as skeptical.

"It’s just much-needed optimism," said Barry Hyman, chief investment strategist for Weatherly Securities.

Stovall is used to cynicism about the predictor.

"People who didn’t invent it are quick to criticize it," said Stovall, who fashioned the predictor in 1979, adapting it from a correlation first introduced a year earlier by a New York Times sportswriter.

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