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Money Pros Optimistic About Large Company Stocks

- Alan Lavine and Gail Liberman

Despite expected rate hikes from the Fed, rising oil prices, andthe transition of power in Iraq, U.S. large company stock investment managers remain positive.

A new quarterly poll from Russell Investment Group, Tacoma, Wa., says more than 90 percent of 2,700 investment managers surveyed believe that U.S. stocks are a bargain--or at least fairly priced.

Those who believe the market is undervalued outnumber those who see it as overvalued by a 3-to-1 ratio, according to the group’s poll, dubbed "Investment Manager Outlook." In addition, managers are particularly bullish on health care-with 75 percent reporting a positive outlook, versus only 4 percent that are bearish.

Other findings of the survey:

  • Bullish money managers outnumber bearish managers by three to one.

  • The managers are optimistic about large company growth stocks. Large company stocks are traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Growth stocks are stocks of companies that are growing earnings faster then the economy, plus inflation, as well as their peers.

  • The managers are bearish on bonds. Interest rates are rising and bond prices fall when interest rates rise.

    However, there is almost an even split between bulls and bears about the outlook for undervalued small company stocks—those that are cheap in relation to future earnings. Meanwhile, 42 percent of the managers surveyed are optimistic about small company growth stocks with fast-growing earnings.

    When asked about economic sectors, investment managers clearly aremost bullish on health care stocks. They also view the technology sector favorably, reflecting "the increasing growth in the economy."

    Other favorites are the oil and energy sectors. Reason: Current oil prices are rising due to worldwide demand as global economies recover.

    Overall, managers show a preference for sectors that stand tobenefit from the middle leg of an economic recovery--primarily largecompany cyclically sensitive stocks, such as technology.

    The survey shows little enthusiasm for interest-rate sensitive areasof the market, such as utilities and financial institutions.

    What about the presidential election and world events?

    Money managers are not dramatically concernedabout the impact of many of the high-profile world events or the U.S. presidential election.

    Be advised. Although this is an optimistic report, the managers could change their minds by the next survey. Tomorrow’s events could influence their thinking. If the types of stocks they favor today perform well, they may take profits before you ever hear from them again.


    Alan Lavine and Gail Liberman are husband and wife columnist and authors of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Making Money With Mutual Funds, (Alpha Books). Al and Gail's new book is Rags to Retirement, (Alpha Books).

    To read more columns, please visit the column archive.

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