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More than 350 attendees hear expert opinions on 2005

CFA Society holds second-annual Forecast Dinner

Jackson — On February 24, 2005, the CFA Society of Mississippi held its Second Annual Forecast Dinner at the Country Club of Jackson. More than 350 attendees heard experts give their outlook on the economy and stock, bond and real estate markets in 2005.

Vincent Catalano, CFA (chartered financial analyst), past-president of the New York Society of Financial Analysts, served again as moderator of the event. Others leading the program included Stuart Freeman, CFA, chief equity strategist with A.G. Edwards, St. Louis; David W. Berson, chief economist with the Federal National Mortgage Association in Washington, D.C.; Mark McClellan, head of BCA Research in Montreal, Quebec, Canada; and Leland Speed, chairman of EastGroup Properties and Parkway Properties and executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority.

A general optimism that the U.S. economy was poised for continued growth was heard by most speakers. While short-term interest rate increases are expected, long-term (10-year) interest rates are anticipated to remain in check and not be subject to substantial increases.

Freeman, who was positive on the overall direction of stocks, said expectations are for the healthcare, consumer staples and energy sectors to outperform other sectors in 2005.

However, the news was not all rosy. Berson said he was concerned about core inflation. If it continues to rise, it could be a problem. And in his closing remarks, Berson said not to expect a fifth consecutive record year in housing markets, though prices should remain strong in stable markets, including Mississippi.

Speed forecasted a good but not spectacular year for commercial real estate, and said further acceptance of real estate as an investment class will continue to support the sector.

Speed, however, is bullish on Mississippi. “Mississippi was overly dependent on manufacturing and industrial wages,” Speed said. “Expansion in the service sector is occurring. Mississippi is seeing better diversification of its economy, We are poised to do great things.”

Organizers of this year’s dinner were thrilled with the response from attendees, and are planning to bring the program back in 2006.

“This forecast dinner will prove to be Mississippi’s premier event for serious investors in 2005. Next year’s event will be even better,” said Roger Muns, CFA, Forecast Dinner Planning chairman for the CFA Society of Mississippi.

CFA Society of Mississippi currently has approximately 50 members. A non-profit organization, it is one of the 130 societies of the CFA Institute. The Mississippi chapter’s mission is “to foster a statewide professional community of investment and financial professionals with the highest level of ethics and competency.”

The CFA Program was established in 1962, and looks to set the global standard for investment knowledge, standards and ethics.

Regular CFA Institute members are required to: hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution or have equivalent education and work experience; pass Level 1 of the CFA exam and three years of acceptable work experience, or pass the CFA Institute self-administered Standards of Professional Practice Exam and six years of work experience; be engaged in acceptable practice work at the time of the application; and, provide one CFA Charterholder Sponsor who is a member of the CFA Society of Mississippi or one supervisor sponsor. For affiliate members, the college degree and acceptable professional work requirements are not required.

For more information on the CFA Society of Mississippi, visit its Web site at http://www.cfamississippi.org/.

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at northway@msbusiness.com.

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