NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Of the four-year presidential cycle, pre-election year tends to be the best, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average averaging a 16% return in those years and the S&P 500 doing slightly better.
It's "generally a very positive year," said Jeffrey Hirsch, editor-in-chief at Stock Trader's Almanac. The only loss for the Dow came in 1939, he added.
However, when a president is in his second term, stocks' performance in the pre-election year tends to be somewhat more muted. Hirsch acknowledged that there is limited data behind these results though.
With March just around the corner, he's starting to become concerned as stocks continue to hit new all-time highs.
Investors should limit the number of "big" long positions they have, as well as sell some of their losing positions, he reasoned. It also wouldn't hurt to raise some of their stop-losses they have on winning positions.
One sector he's cautious on is utilities. The Utilities Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLU) pays a 3.25% dividend yield and tends to perform well between March and October. The recent pullback is also attractive.
However, Hirsch says he's cautious because of the sector's sensitivity to interest rates. If rates move higher, this sector could underperform.
What else can investors look to buy? Crude oil and natural gas typically bottom in February, he said.
-- Written by Bret Kenwell