For bull, read bear, for buy, bye-bye

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 January, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 January, 1994, 12:00am

WE know that for many of our friends in Exchange Square, a bear market is a strange and new thing.

The youngsters who thought that the correction the other day was a crash may be about to get a real shock. So will their punters.

In preparation, Lai See presents its Bear Market Language Primer.

For instance, when they say ''a correction which should be looked on as a buying opportunity'', they mean: ''I went liquid last Tuesday, how about you?'' ''We see strong support at 11,000'' means: ''This market could fall forever.'' ''We are recommending a switch into safe cyclicals'' means: ''Of course we're panicking - why aren't you?'' ''The fundamentals are still in place'' means: ''We don't know what went wrong either.'' ''We are in this market for the long haul'' means: ''I've just been sacked.'' ''On current PE, the market is significantly undervalued'' means: ''How could we have bought in at that price?'' ''You have to think about yields'' means: ''Yes, that's right, you're stuck with the bloody things now.'' ''Wise investors will now be considering a re-allocation of portfolio resources'' means: ''You still have a little left - why not take the wife out for a decent meal before you jump?'' ''Opportunities in other selected regional markets and in emerging South American markets'' means: ''I wonder if I can get a job selling cars in Rio.'' ''Picking the correct stocks will play an increasingly important role in the market'' means: ''Not all of them can have bombed out, can they?'' ''Bull runs like the fantastic performance we've seen in the past 12 months cannot go on for ever. Everyone knows that'' means: ''How much does a hawker's licence cost?'' ''Our analysts have been predicting a gradual falling away from recent over-inflated prices for some weeks now'' means: ''We got just as carried away as you did.'' ''I've got an institutional client holding on the other line and he's very interested'' means: ''I pushed us into underwriting this rights issue and now my neck is on the block.'' ''Mr Smith is on leave'' means: ''We fired him with the rest of those prats in Hermes ties who could only sell shares when a queue formed.'' ''Have you spoken to Mr Jones? He's our specialist in global fixed income. Institutional buyers are currently expecting further down-ticks in German interest rates making Bunds a strong favourite with several major clients'' means: ''The big boys, including us, got out weeks ago.'' ''They are all in a strategy meeting'' means: ''We're closing the local office down, just like last time.'' And for the brokers: ''Ah, young Nigel, how long have you been with the firm?'' means: ''Here's your black bag, leave the keys to the BMW at reception and don't send me any begging letters.'' ''It is never easy to say this kind of thing'' means: ''It's a hell of a lot easier than hearing it.'' ''How are Pat and the kids?'' means: ''Hope you set up a trust fund for the school fees, old boy.'' Tomorrow: Banks and bad loans. ''Cash flow is always more important to us than collateral as we never like to foreclose'' means: ''About 30 per cent of assets are now non-performing. We can keep it covered up for just so long, but the security turns out to be a flooded industrial waste tip 800 kilometres from Guangzhou. We thought it was an office block in Shenzhen.'' Jesting pilot AS official wearer of the South China Morning Post jester's hat, Lai See wasn't going to miss out on a Toy Fair. It was as good as we hoped - more water pistols than you could shake a stick at.

One of our favourite toys at the fair was made by Lun Cheung, whose designers have obviously been living too close to Hong Kong's perennial road-works for too long.

The toy is one of those spinning vehicles the hawkers sell under the bridge on Hennessy Road. But instead of being a boring old police car, it's a digger, complete with road drill. The digger is just as noisy as the real thing.

Red terror STILL at the Toy Fair, Kord Gifts Manufactory makes some of the goriest masks we've ever seen. Really horrible, we thought, all blood and gore and nastiness. It changes its range of masks every quarter, replacing about a third of them, according to Ricky Law, assistant market manager.

If we ever want to really frighten our friends, we're going to get hold of one of their latest products.

Direct from Shenzhen, it's the Deng Xiaoping mask. Aaaarghhh! Muddy waters WE have been invited to the farewell party of Otto Verkerke, who is leaving HAM Dredgers' Hong Kong branch and transfering back to head office in the Netherlands.

The men of HAM had a really big send-off planned for Mr Verkerke. He was to have been ferried from Central to the Repulse Bay Hotel by (wait for it) dredger.

Alas, it is not to be. Mr Verkerke and his colleagues will have to travel in more mundane style following the intervention of the Marine Department who pointed out that what with Hong Kong being the busiest port in the world, it might be a bit inconvenient to have a bunch of Dutch bottom-scrapers horsing around the harbour on a floating JCB.

Banning the dredger joy-ride will solve one problem, however.

What constitutes ''smart casual'' dress aboard an 80-foot-long shovel, especially when you consider what it will have been shovelling in Hong Kong's fragrant harbour?