Looking for clouds in silver linings: Defying logic (when in history has ad spending been down in a Presidential-election/Olympic year?) and a Niagra Falls of economic evidence that advertising spending will increase in 2004, MediaPost reports that a stock analyst predicts ad spending will be flat next year. Wait a minute, when did we start believing stock analysts again? The article also says Merrill Lynch analysts predict (based on their surveys) that advertisers will be wrestling more “control” of agency compensation. Bottomline: Don’t make 2004 investment decisions regarding media stocks based on recommendations from the clueless Merrill Lynch’s equities research team.