The second strategy is to invest in old-economy stocks. In the recent bull market that was driven by overvalued technology stocks, this approach was seen as contrarian. But the strategy insulated many of Mr. Jimenez’s clients when the bottom fell out of Internet stocks. “We try to stay away from stocks that are in fashion. Stick to companies that are, in dollar value, a bit more valuable,” he advises.
One such non-technology company that Mr. Jimenez is bullish on is Home Depot (NYSE: HD). Although it fell from a $70 high to a $34 low last year, he still classifies the company as a very attractive buy since it continues to dominate its sector. With regard to value-based funds, he recommends Legg Mason Trust’s Growth and Income for the long term. He likes the fund managers’ contrarian approach to stock picking and credits them with “picking some good winners” and beating the S&P in the last seven years. He also sees small-cap funds as good deals right now. He points to the MFS New Discovery Small-Cap Fund for good medium-term potential.
But like his counterparts above, Mr. Jimenez has not lost faith in the technology sector. His favorite technology stock is Agilent. (NYSE: A). This spinoff from Hewlett-Packard tests instruments for technology and biotechnology. It went as high as $150 last March and as low as $38 in the months following technology’s decline. But Mr. Jimenez still considers Agilent a good investment because of its solid earnings and good growth potential.
Walter Pardo, McLaughlin, Piven, Vogel Securities, New York
Echoing the sentiments of Salomon Smith Barney’s Mr. Garza, Walter Pardo thinks the aging of the Baby Boomers and the Internet revolution will shape the economy, bringing science and technology, healthcare, and financial sectors to new highs in the near future.
In his 10 years at McLaughlin, Piven, Vogel Securities, Mr. Pardo has advocated a disciplined buy-and-hold strategy that takes into consideration each client’s time horizon. “Every stage of life demands a different consideration. Let’s take me, for example. I’m in my 30s and have a long-term horizon for most of my investments. My main objective year-to-year for my portfolio (as well as those of clients in a similar stage of life) is to outperform the relative market indexes when the market is going up and not decrease as much as the indexes during market downturns. This can be accomplished by a buy-and-hold strategy and by using well-managed mutual funds that have historically beaten the S&P 500.”
He advises risk-averse clients to expect 7 percent returns, medium-risk clients to expect 10 percent returns, and risk-tolerant clients to expect returns between 12 and 13 percent. But regardless of how much risk an investor is willing to tolerate, investing “is not a sprint; it’s a marathon,” Mr. Pardo reminds his clients.
“The market has seen wars, political upheavals, the fall of the Berlin Wall – and through all those events, the long-term investors have prospered,” he says. “My job is to remind my clients that they have to stay focused on the big picture – whether it’s retirement in 25 years, kids going to college in seven years, or a down payment on a home.”
In line with his long-term strategy, Mr. Pardo recommends Putnam New Opportunities, a growth fund that “has been around the block, with flexibility on the size of the companies it buys.” In other words, it is not limited to large-cap or small-cap stocks. He also recommends Pioneer Fund, touting it as “one of the oldest value funds, with a conservative strategy and consistent returns year in and year out.”
Mr. Pardo also points to large-cap fund Touchstone Growth/Value as a well-managed fund that focuses on companies hand-picked by the fund manager for impressive records of achievement. (There are only 50 companies in the fund.) Munder Framlington Healthcare, a 5-star (Morningstar Rating) sector fund, covers “the mid-cap biotech and healthcare sectors that have been on fire as of late and is a great way to invest in this aggressive sector.” Two other sector funds he recommends are Davis Financial Fund, for its “great management and above-average returns,” and Alliance Technology – “It’s been around longer than most tech funds and has seen ups and downs in the market but has maintained a conservative allocation.”
Perhaps it goes without saying, but just in case, Mr. Pardo prefaces discussions of investment strategy with the following disclaimer: “No one can guarantee any rate of return, and past performance is no guarantee of future results.” Investment strategy, after all, is simply a tool with which to play the game. But it remains a better basis for investment decisions than football games, skirt hemlines, and Hollywood trends.
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