If you want an education in how to pick stocks, or if you simply want to crib some hot ideas, may I suggest that you get a copy of the just released Fidelity Select Portfolios report that comes out once a year?
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Message Boards. I always drill deep into these in part because I think that the interviews, other than the stilted performance paragraph, are very enlightening, and in part because I am always looking for star managers.
It's funny, Fidelity at times seems very interesting in promoting stars and at times wants you to focus on nothing but the names of the funds. I always think this is curious; fund names are meaningless. Managers are everything. I pick funds by manager.
These sector funds are traditionally a place where Fido, as everybody calls it in my business, grooms young talent. This year's phenom search was a bit bare, I am afraid. Oh sure, there were winners: The natural-gas guys scored big and obviously anybody in tech.
But that's not what I am looking for. I am trying to find someone who is in a tough sector and still made money. For instance, I can't be as impressed by a chip-sector analyst who was up 30% as I could be about another analyst in a sector that has been the bane of others who made money.
In that vein, the manager who stands out the most is Christopher Zepf, the
Air Transportation Portfolio person. This segment has buried some people, just killed them. But Zepf avoided the big land mines -- the large carriers -- and focused on the smaller regional carriers. He made his money -- and doubled the averages -- with
Atlantic Coast Airlines
Now, that doesn't mean you should go put your money with the Air Transportation fund. In fact, this sector would seem to be a dumb place to invest, given that oil has spiked so. But I like this manager. And I want to keep an eye on him.
I also like to use this document to figure out where Fidelity might be headed next in tech. For that I turn to Andrew Kaplan, who manages part of my IRA with the
Fidelity Select Technology Portfolio.
Kaplan owns too much
for my liking. But he has sizable positions in
, which may mean that other generalist managers at Fidelity, interested in technology, might gravitate to those names.
Finally I always look to the Fidelity
Biotech fund to get some good ideas of stocks to buy. This year is no different. Rajiv Kaul, the current analyst running the group, has a bunch of large holdings in companies I know little about, such as
. I tuck those names away and await and order research on all of them from my brokers who cover them so that I can get some familiarity with what could be the next generation's best pharmaceutical stocks.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long Microsoft, VerticalNet and BroadVision. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at