) -- Eric Heyman, co-manager of the
Olstein Strategic Opportunities Fund
, says it's a good time to be "skeptically bullish." He expects companies that make consumer discretionary products to gain as the economy improves.
The fund has risen 31% this year, better than 90% of its
rivals. Over the past year, it has fallen 15%, better than 82% of its Morningstar peers.
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?
As bottom-up value investors with a long-term investment horizon, we're typically neutral about the market's overall direction. That being said, in light of the extreme volatility we've experienced over the past 12 months, we do believe the market will continue to settle down with further rehabilitation of credit markets and a reduction in unemployment. But we're pleased the market has once again begun to focus on individual company valuations, so you can call us skeptically bullish.
What is your top stock pick?
One area in which we have historically done well is identifying corporate turnarounds. A company that we believe is in the process of successfully transforming itself is
. Beginning in 2007, management has transformed Teleflex from a diversified industrial products and medical company, to a company that now derives 70% of its profits from medical devices and surgical instruments. We believe Teleflex is an undervalued medical products company capable of generating over $5 per share of free cash flow in 2010.
What is your top "sleeper" stock pick?
Once again, our propensity for finding investment opportunities in companies undergoing significant transformation led us to
Jack in the Box
. Jack in the Box is in the process of changing to a franchise-based model, which generates more predictable cash flows and is a less capital-intensive model for the parent company.
In tougher economic times, business models that generate more predictable cash flows result in greater shareholder value. We believe there is also a hidden gem in the company's Qdoba brand -- a Mexican-themed, quick-service restaurant chain -- that we believe will eventually be spun off thus realizing greater value for shareholders.
What is your favorite sector?
Although we don't pick sectors we believe we're finding outstanding value in the consumer discretionary sector, which has been severely punished because of the economy.
In the consumer discretionary sector, we're finding many companies that have implemented appropriate cost-cutting measures in the face of flat or declining sales. We believe these measures will pay off considerably as the economy improves and these companies are able to translate leaner operations and sales growth into greatly increased earnings.
What sector or stock would you avoid?
We remain very skeptical of leveraged business models, particularly in the financial sector. However, we haven't written off the entire financial sector. We're finding compelling values in asset-management firms such as
-- Reported by Gregg Greenberg in New York
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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.