2008 predictions for the S&P 500

— -- Bull talk

The most bullish '08 forecast comes from Jason Trennert of Strategas Research Partners. His thesis: We won't get a recession. Therefore, any weakness in profit growth will be offset by a swelling of P-E ratios. The bottom line: With the Fed lowering rates, investors will be willing to pay more for every $1 of corporate earnings.His prediction:1680

Bear talk

The most conservative forecast comes from Abhijit Chakrabortti of Morgan Stanley. His thesis: Profit growth estimates are way too high. Pesky inflation pressures will make it tougher for the Fed to lower rates aggressively. Add to that negative news on the global growth story. The bottom line: Stock drivers stall out. His prediction:1520

The in-betweens

1675 is the prediction from Abby Joseph Cohen, Goldman Sachs; and Tobias Levkovich, Citigroup

1625 is the prediction of Tom McManus, Banc of America Securities

1590 is the prediction from Thomas Lee, JPMorgan Chase; and Hugh Johnson, Johnson Illington Advisors

1580 is the prediction from Rod Smith, Wachovia Securities

1575 is the prediction from Stuart Freeman, A.G. Edwards

1525* is the prediction from Richard Bernstein, Merrill Lynch

The index broke the 7-year-old record high in May. It set nine records before topping out at 1565.15 on Oct. 9.

* = 12-month target as of Dec. 3.

Investment ideas for the new year

•Buy markets in developed countries But if you must chase a "hot" market, Brazil is a better bet than China, Russia or India. Richard Bernstein, Merrill Lynch

•Buy AT&T tWhy? Cash-flow-rich telecom's dividend is on rise. Abhijit Chakrabortti, Morgan Stanley

•Overweight U.S. stocks vs. bonds Why? Offer better value — if there is no recession. Abby Joseph Cohen, Goldman Sachs

•Buy PepsiCo pepWhy? Pop and snacks will sell, recession or not. Stuart Freeman, A.G. Edwards

•Buy Citigroup cWhy? Brand is as strong as Coke, and it's cheap. Thomas Lee, JPMorgan Chase

•Buy General Electric geWhy? Multiyear laggard can post double-digit profit growth. Tobias Levkovich, Citigroup

•Buy financial stocks Why? Shares are down big, but credit crunch to ease. Hugh Johnson, Johnson Illington Advisors

•Buy Procter & Gamble pgWhy? Well-run large cap makes fortune abroad. Tom McManus, Banc of America Securities

•Buy tech, health care and consumer staple stocks Why? Predictable earnings streams in tough times. Rod Smyth, Wachovia Securities

Buy asset managers like Legg Mason lm and T. Rowe Price trowWhy? Unlike big banks, not victimized by mortgage defaults. Jason Trennert, Strategas Research Partners

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