Analyst Stock Picks: Bankamerica, Zenith Electronics, Toll Brothers

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Q. I purchased some shares of BankAmerica Corp. at $17 a share. Since that time, it has dropped in value. Should I hold or sell?

A. BankAmerica Corp. (around $12, New York Stock Exchange) should pick up some momentum based on improvement of its position in the California marketplace, predicted Arthur Soter, analyst with Morgan Stanley & Co.

``BankAmerica has made significant progress in cutting its cost structure and upgrading its credit quality, so I think its balance sheet will move into the black in the third quarter,'' said Soter, who nonetheless expects the company to lose money for the full year. ``The problem is that its name has become tarnished in recent years, making it difficult to attract and retain staff and attract some types of transactions.''

Q. I own shares of American Heliothermal Corp. and cannot find the stock listed anywhere. Does the company still exist?

A. Yes, it does, but just barely. According to Colorado authorities, American Heliothermal Corp. of Aurora, Colo., has been delinquent since May 1 for failure to file an annual report. If it doesn't file one by Sept. 30, its charter will be suspended.

``Basically, the company is still legally in existence, but inactive,'' said Robert D. Fisher, vice president with the New York-based R.M. Smythe & Co. stock-search firm. ``It is traded over the counter, offered at 5 cents a share.''

Q. I bought $5,000 worth of U.S. Savings Bonds last year. Because of financial needs, I cashed them in this year. What are the tax ramifications of this for this year? How is the interest handled?

A. Quite simply, the difference between what you received when you cashed in the savings bonds and what you paid for them in the first place is your interest income, said Robert S. Greisman, partner in the Grant Thornton accounting firm.

``So, you will be taxable on the amount of that interest income in 1987,'' explained Greisman.

Q. I have 60 shares of American Carriers. What is your opinion of the company?

A. American Carriers (around $10, over the counter), a transportation holding company that derives most of its revenues from American Freight Systems Inc., suffered a loss in the first half of the year due to a decline in shipments, higher insurance and rate competition. As you know, its stock has not performed very well.

``The company has, however, agreed to acquire Smith's Transfer Corp., which should give it a strong position in the eastern U.S.,'' said Sharon Conway, based in Chicago with the A.G. Edwards & Sons brokerage firm. ``That merger is subject to Interstate Commerce Commission approval, but it might just be the spark needed to turn things around. …