WILLIAM GREINER, Chief Investment Officer, UMB Financial
Greiner's crystal ball has a strong track record, having landed him at or close to the top of the list of 80-plus stock market strategists BusinessWeek has polled in past years. For 2008, Greiner says stocks will fall in the first half of the year as the economy slows. But after that, Greiner expects a combination of low stock valuations and lower interest rates to push the Dow up some 8% over today's levels. Moreover, he notes, "the market has a tradition of rallying pretty hard in the second half of a Presidential election year." Greiner favors companies that manufacture products consumers cannot do without, such as food and drugs. He expects such companies to deliver strong profit gains—of some 8% in 2007 and 10% in 2008—even as corporate bottom lines elsewhere stagnate. His favorite stock, Starbucks (SBUX), trades at about 23 times earnings—or "its cheapest level ever."