Robert Stimpson, manager of the
River Oak Discovery Fund
, said he favors international equities to those of the U.S.
The fund has risen 23% this year, beating 95% of rivals. It has fallen an annual average of 5.5% over three years, compared with a decline of 8.9% a year for competing funds.
TheStreet.com's Fund Manager Five Spot
, where America's top mutual fund managers give their best stock picks in five fast and furious questions.
Are you a bull or a bear?
I'm a bull, particularly on international markets and companies with high exposure to the international markets. A swifter recovery overseas will help pull the U.S. out of its recession. I'm bullish on international markets because the significant worldwide economic stimulus is more likely to benefit markets that are not experiencing the sharp deleveraging seen in the U.S.
Outside of Europe, international consumers aren't saddled with underwater mortgages or houses that can't sell/afford, poor savings rates and credit card debt. Domestically, the excesses from the past several years will be corrected and consumers will pay down debt, start saving more and rethink buying a second home, even if they can get a mortgage for it. Overseas, however, excess income will be spent on discretionary items, like cellphones, cars, entertainment, etc. Given the amount of economic stimulus globally, a recovery is a matter of when, not if, and I want to be prepared for it.
What is your top stock pick?
In the small-cap space,
is positioned to benefit from growth in cellular traffic in China. The company provides software and services to Chinese telecommunications operators.
As 3G networks are rolled out in China, more telecommunications software and services will be needed to measure data usage, provide billing and additional services. Communication usage typically increases with economic development. This, combined with the rollout of 3G, consumer-directed economic stimulus and AsiaInfo's home-field advantage present a good opportunity. At 28 times forward earnings, the stock is trading below its 35% growth rate.
What is your top beneath-the-radar, or sleeper, stock pick?
International Gaming Technology
is a great sleeper stock. The company makes slot machines for casinos. Its shares have been under pressure for several quarters due to slower spending from casinos during the recession, as well as on fears consumers would be making fewer trips to the casinos. Both are correct assumptions, but they are backward-looking. Not only will casinos start spending in preparation for an economic recovery, but recessions tend to expand the available marketplace for gaming-equipment suppliers. Put more simply, state governments approve more gaming locations when recessions crimp their budgets. Thus, they approve more racetracks, riverboats and Indian casinos, which need slot machines to boost state coffers.
Finally, the slot-machine industry is moving toward a newer server-based technology that will be more efficient and profitable for the casinos. Helping other companies make more money and be more efficient is an attractive value proposition.
What is your favorite sector?
Technology is my favorite sector due to the attractive valuations, high exposure to international markets and strong balance sheets. Given their strong balance sheets and cash flow, they typically don't depend on capital markets to finance their working capital needs or can act opportunistically on growth opportunities or acquisitions. This is a nice characteristic in a post-credit bubble environment.
While tech has been one of the strongest sectors over the past year, I don't think that will change as it typically benefits from an economic recovery and its balance sheet provides defensive characteristics in a tighter credit environment.
What sector or stock would you avoid?
Staples offer a poor value proposition here. Not only are they rather defensive, but better growth prospects and yield can be found elsewhere.
Before joining TheStreet.com, Gregg Greenberg was a writer and segment producer for CNBC's Closing Bell. He previously worked at FleetBoston and Lehman Brothers in their Private Client Services divisions, covering high net-worth individuals and midsize hedge funds. Greenberg attended New York University's School of Business and Economic Reporting. He also has an M.B.A. from Cornell University's Johnson School of Business, and a B.A. in history from Amherst College.