Sunday, August 13, 2000

Dot-coms cause excitement and caution




By Jerry Langdon
Gannett News Service

        Americans are conflicted in their attitudes toward Internet companies, according to a telephone poll of 1,300 people by Scudder Kemper Investments.

        People appear excited by, and confident in, the long-term prospects of firms and the dot-com revolution — yet at the same time they are apprehensive and generally reluctant to invest in these same companies, said Ted Truscott, managing director at Scudder Kemper.

        • While nearly half (49 percent) of Americans think it's important to follow the economy and stock market, 82 percent say they've never heard of or read about the New Economy.

        • Among those who say they have heard of the New Economy, just 28 percent say it has something to do with “high-tech economy” or “high-tech stocks.”

        • Only 6 percent say they have purchased or sold stocks over the Internet.

        The conflict in views is apparent in the following responses:

        • A majority (59 percent) thinks that the Internet or dot-com companies of today will be the largest U.S. businesses in the future.

        • Roughly two-thirds (66 percent of public, 71 percent of investors) think investing in Net and high-tech stocks is not just a passing fad.

        • About half (52 percent of Americans, 55 percent of investors) say it's not foolish to invest in Internet and technology companies that have yet to make a profit.

        But then there is this response that reflects a lingering sense of apprehension, in fact definite reluctance to invest in dot-coms:

        • Two-thirds of the people say they are concerned about the stability of fast-growing technology companies.

        Another survey highlight:

        • Two-thirds of respondents say they think the media have turned investing into a form of popular entertainment, with three-fourths saying “there's too much media hype about people getting rich quick in the stock market.”

        Hype or no hype, Americans have a tremendously optimistic sense of what returns to expect from investments, according to the April 18-May 1 survey by Scudder Kemper.

        It reported the average (mean) return on investment considered “reasonable” by the public is 21.7 percent.

Remodelers try to keep up with boom

               Home-remodeling expenditures totaled $142.9 billion last year, up 7 percent from 1998, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

        Improvements, which include additions and alterations, accounted for 70 percent, with the remainder spent on maintenance and repairs.

        “Many of our member remodeling companies are barely keeping up with the rush of homeowners during the last several years wanting to convert some of their equity into additional living space and new amenities for their homes,” said NAHB president Robert L. Mitchell.

       



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