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Top Fund Manager Picks All-Weather Stocks

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Even if the economic outlook stays uncertain, there are still attractive stocks to buy, says Sandy Villere, manager of the Villere Balanced Fund (VILLX).

The mutual fund has returned 37% over the past year, better than 99% of its Morningstar (MORN) peers in the moderate-allocation category. During the past five years, the fund has returned an average of 6.3% annually, outpacing 95% of its Morningstar rivals.

Welcome to TheStreet's Fund Manager Five Spot, where America's top mutual fund managers give their best stock picks and views on the market in a five-question format. P/>How much will Internet provider NIC (EGOV) be affected by government cutbacks at the state and local levels?

Villere: In our view, they won't be affected much at all. Their business is designed to help these governments get rid of a lot of IT departments that would otherwise be overhangs. As a result, they are going to do quite well as municipalities cut back on spending.

Why are you so bullish on Pool Corp. (POOL)? One would think it would be hurt by the housing downturn.

Villere: I recently sat down with the CEO, and he said he expects the company to do quite well even if housing does not recover. In fact, they will grow earnings at 20% over the next five years. In effect, the housing recovery will be a call option but not something we are counting on.

Why do you like O'Reilly Automotive (ORLY) as opposed to AutoZone (AZO)?

Villere: O'Reilly does well as the average age of cars on the road increase. So they will do very well in this uncertain economic climate when people are less inclined to shell out for a new car. They are very strong in rural areas as well.

If the economy is indeed improving, however slowly, why would you want to own bankruptcy-software provider EPIQ Systems (EPIQ)?

Villere: EPIQ handled the bankruptcies for Enron, Worldcom, Adelphia and other big names. Even in booms there are bankruptcies. They will also do quite well in a rising-interest-rate environment because they are paid on their on their assets that are held at Bank of America (BAC).

One of the largest holdings in your portfolio is printer maker 3D Systems (DDD). Why is this an attractive stock to own?

Villere: 3D Systems should do well in this uncertain economic climate because they save their customers money. They make 3D printers that enable their customers to see on a computer incredibly detailed models of an end product before it goes into production.

-- Reported by Gregg Greenberg in New York.

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Stock quotes in this article: DDD, EGOV, POOL, EPIQ, ORLY, VILLX 
Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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