Lately, Mr. Vinik's big bets on cyclical stocks and technology
Apr. 05, 1995
Lately, Mr. Vinik's big bets on cyclical stocks and technology have been paying off. But he's aggravated. ``It's been a frustrating (12 months) similar to 1992, when a narrow group of consumer stocks buoyed'' the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index, he says. ``Our fundamental work has not been rewarded,'' he says.
Investment Co. of America
Investment Co. of America, the nation's second-largest mutual fund, is having a love affair with the banking industry.
``The banks are in a virtuous cycle,'' says Mr. Grimsley, one of eight managers who jointly oversee the roughly $20 billion fund.
Big cost-cutting measures have turned many banks ``into cash-generating cows,'' he says. ``And they've used that cash to pay dividends, buy back stock and make acquisitions.'' Banking is the fund's largest industry holding.
Two of its largest individual bank positions are BankAmerica and First Interstate. ``We're still early in a recovery in California,'' Mr. Grimsley says.
Since the beginning of the year, the fund has remained cautious, with about 20 percent of the fund in cash, says Mr. Grimsley. But ``we continue to find good value,'' he adds.
In particular, the fund's managers like the cyclicals, stocks whose fortunes tend to rise and fall with the broader economy.
``When interest rates started going up, there was wholesale selling of cyclicals that drove down prices over a short period of time,'' says Gregg Ireland, another manager of the fund. But, he says, ``I'm getting into discussions daily with colleagues about the whole cyclical sector looking interesting again.'' In particular, Mr. Ireland likes Caterpillar, Ford Motor and DuPont.
That's not to say Investment Co. of America has been sitting out the rally in large-capitalization growth stocks, which are stocks expected to post superior growth in earnings. The firm has added to its positions in Federal National Mortgage Association, Philip Morris and MCI Communications, already some of the fund's biggest holdings.
Mr. Ireland doesn't buy the argument that the technology-stock rally is about to run out of steam. Even if there is a three-month to six-month correction in the wings, ``historically, the leaders bounce back,'' he says.
Intel, one of the firm's largest holdings, is ``the consummate technology stock,'' Mr. Ireland adds. Lately, lots of folks have agreed, as Intel has soared from $70 in January to above $86 recently.
As a value-oriented investor, Investment Co. of America hunts out bargains, though its criteria don't necessarily include a low price-earnings ratio, says Don O'Neal, also a manager of the fund. ``We use yardsticks that apply to that particular company,'' he says.
Putnam Fund for Growth & Income
When stocks get hit by short-term concerns that often spells a buying opportunity to Mr. King, co-manager with Tony Kreisel of the Putnam Fund for Growth & Income.
For example, early this year, shares of Sprint fell on fears that Sprint might spend too much money bidding for federal licenses to provide personal-communications services. Jitters about delays on Sprint projects in Germany and France also depressed the shares.
Enter Mr. King, wallet open. ``The stock traded down to $26 or $27, and we increased our position aggressively at those levels,'' he says. ``We're very comfortable with the company's business strategy.'' Among other things, he likes Sprint's diversification into many sectors of telecommunications. The stock has lately traded above $30.
Those short-term worries ``may be valid with a horizon of three to six months,'' Mr. King says. But he and Mr. Kreisel have a horizon more like ``three to six years.''
The Boston-based fund doesn't try to ``time'' the stock market: It stays pretty fully invested all the time. But Mr. King doesn't mind sharing his hunch about the market. ``This year we had a great first quarter,'' he says. ``My bet is that you don't have much action for the rest of the year.'' He thinks stocks might sag, then recover to end the year near current levels.
From 1982 through 1991, Mr. King notes, stocks racked up scorching gains averaging 17 percent a year. Such periods are often followed by quieter ones. Mr. King thinks a quiet period began in 1992, and is continuing.
Correctly guessing that interest rates would edge downward, the fund has kept about 25 percent of its money in bonds and financial stocks this year. It is beginning to lighten up just a little on that bet. But Mr. King still ardently favors J.P. Morgan. He thinks the bank's new leadership team, under Douglas A. Warner III, will cut costs effectively; he also likes the 4.9 percent dividend yield.