KANSAS CITY, Mo. (TheStreet) -- David Hollond, manager of the American Century Heritage Fund (ATHAX) - Get Report, expects renewed consumer spending to boost shares of travel companies, such as Priceline.com (PCLN) , Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL) - Get Report and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide (HOT) .
The $2.3 billion fund, which has earned four stars from
, has gained 38% this year, beating the 28% advance of the
S&P 500 Index
. The Heritage fund has returned 9% annually, on average, during the past five years, beating 99% of competing funds.
Fund Manager Five Spot, where America's top mutual fund managers give their best stock picks in five fast and furious questions.
What are you noticing in the market?
: Our investment process focuses on identifying companies with accelerating revenue and earnings growth rates that we believe are sustainable. We also look for stocks with the strongest relative price strength or price momentum. Our process is leading us toward companies that benefit from economic recovery.
We are starting to see early signs of business picking up for the first time in several quarters. Our team of analysts and portfolio managers recently met with a large number of company CEOs and CFOs, and most of them are more positive about their companies' near-term outlooks than they were in the first three quarters.
What is your top stock pick?
: Priceline.com is one of our top stock picks. Priceline.com is an online travel booking company through which people make hotel and airline reservations, often at steep discounts.
In 2009, the secular shift toward consumers booking vacation travel online (rather than directly or via travel agents) continued. Not only does Priceline.com benefit as online travel booking becoming a greater percentage of total travel booking, but it is also gaining market share in the online travel booking category. In the most recent quarter, Priceline.com's share of the total market rose 4 percentage points, year-over-year, vs. its publicly traded peers. Priceline.com has also shown accelerating travel bookings since the second quarter.
What is your top "under-the-radar" stock pick?
: A top under-the-radar pick for us is
, which operates wireless communications towers. It leases antenna space on its towers to operators of wireless service networks. SBA Communications is another company that is demonstrating improving growth rates because of a powerful secular driver. In this case, that driver is smartphone adoption.
Greater usage of the mobile Web drives wireless data transmission growth and requires more bandwidth. These in turn are increasing the demand for more towers and more communications equipment on each tower. This has helped drive SBA Communications' revenue and cash flow growth.
What is your favorite sector?
: A key sector for us at the present time is consumer discretionary. There are a number of themes where acceleration is evident. Travel is seeing a nice rebound, not just with Priceline.com but also with cruise operator Royal Caribbean and the hotel company Starwood.
Several retailers that had been struggling before the economic meltdown have used the recession to stage turnarounds.
is a prime example. Many U.S. companies in the consumer space such as
and Priceline.com are driving acceleration in their businesses via European and Asian expansion. Companies like
are starting to see consumers spend a little more on home furnishings after they had scaled back those purchases in the downturn.
What sector or stock would you avoid?
: The consumer staples sector is not very attractive to us at this time. Their revenues held up fairly well in the downturn because they're not economically sensitive. As the economy starts to turn upward, it is not driving revenue acceleration for most staples. A second concern is that commodity costs are starting to rise, which is hurting profitability for many consumer staples companies.
-- Reported by Danielle Kost in Boston