One Orange County firm that some analysts said might be worth watching is National Lumber & Supply Inc., the Fountain Valley do-it-yourself chain whose nutty commercials have gained it fairly strong name recognition.
Like most do-it-yourself retailers, National Lumber has been caught in the grip of a long-running slump.
Since its initial offering at $10 a share in late 1983, National Lumber's share price has fallen sharply. Just two weeks ago, it hit an all-time low of $4 a share amid news of a $960,000 loss for the fourth quarter ended Jan. 31. For all of 1985, the company's net losses totaled $154,000.
Nevertheless, suggests Frank Podbelsek, an analyst with the Los Angeles investment firm of Wedbush, Noble, Cook Inc., declining interest rates and improved activity in the housing market may lead to a rosier 1986 for National Lumber and similar retailers.
"When you have an increase in housing activity, you see a more direct impact on the do-it-yourself market," Podbelsek said, explaining that both home buyers and sellers alike spend money on their properties.