With the market
gyrating wildly and a slew of tech heavyweights reporting quarterly results this week, today would be a great day to put the managers of the 360 big-cap growth funds in a room and ask them what they're holding.
Let's do that, shall we? It'll dig up some good dirt.
The list of tech titans handing out their report cards this week includes:
, and some shabby
run by a college dropout up near Seattle.
As usual, a smattering of growth fund managers and analysts will toss off their soundbites on these stocks this week. But rather than simply rely on what these folks are saying, let's add a healthy dose of reality and take a gander at what they're doing with, well, your money. It'll be worth a thousand words, and maybe more in greenbacks. Instead of asking one expert or the unwashed masses, we're looking at the whims of the expert masses.
The upshot: The smart money continues to gradually abandon mature PC-type tech shops, moving that money into more Net-centric types like
. Growth fund managers are pretty heartless about dumping last year's winner if it's not working now. So, if you hold some of their cast-offs, you might ask yourself if the company you bought then is the company you want to own today.
Here's a look at the percentage of large-cap growth funds owning these nine stocks back on Jan. 1 and as of Sept. 30, according to
Before we get started, let's point out the limitations of what we're doing. This data is dated and it doesn't reflect whether managers are chipping away at their positions. So this isn't a buy list or a sell list, just a broad look at managers' sentiment on a stock -- as in, they either own it or they don't. It's an intriguing look at what some of the pros and talking heads are up to.
And what they're doing can move stock prices. There's more than $578 billion invested in these funds -- more than any other category of stock funds and twice the amount invested in
index funds, according to
. So when enough of them like a stock, it tends to go up -- and they typically only buy stocks they think will go up in the near term.
"As a large-cap growth manager you can't afford to hold stocks that aren't working. You're paid to beat not only a benchmark, but also each other so you can't sit with losing picks," says Bob Tuner, portfolio manager of the no-load
Turner Top 20 fund, among others.
In looking over the funds' rising and falling ownership figures for these stocks, a theme emerges: Old Tech vs. New Tech. Old Tech is companies like Microsoft, Intel, Apple Computer and IBM, companies that rely heavily on maturing PC sales for their growth. The percentage of big-cap growth funds owning these stocks has generally dipped or flatlined, with Intel as the exception.
"You can see a growth shift. Broadcom, Texas Instruments, and Sun Microsystems are growing faster than those others who are more tied to PCs. They're part of what people are calling 'New Tech,' " says Pat Dorsey, director of stock analysis at Morningstar, which doesn't do any investment banking.
After sluggish PC sales led to earnings warnings from
Dell, it's safe to say that many growth managers have dumped their stakes in companies like these. Managers probably are also viewing Net blue-chip America Online as a mature (translation: slower growing) company once it merges with media giant
. Declining online advertising probably isn't helping matters.
Bob Stansky, manager of the large-cap blend, $103.6 billion
Fidelity Magellan fund, just
made this shift, replacing Microsoft and Intel in the massive fund's top 10 holdings with server shop Sun Microsystems and data-storage concern EMC. Both shops have primarily hitched their wagons to the Internet.
As you can tell, growth manager types are not a patient bunch.
"I've always said a tech stock is overvalued when it misses expectations and it's undervalued when it beats expectations," says Turner.
"Most growth managers have a six-month time horizon and worship at the church of what's working now," says Dorsey.
Selling these blue-chips isn't easy. Because they typically make up a big chunk of these managers' benchmarks like the S&P 500 and the
Russell 1000 Growth
, managers don't typically sell their whole stakes in these names unless they're pretty sure they're not going north anytime soon.
That's not to say the money is leaving the tech sector, however. In the first eight months of this year, the average large-cap growth fund's tech stake rose from 34% to more than 44%. Where's it going? New Tech or tech shops that bank more on the growth of the communications networks and the Net.
You can see that in the rising support for Broadcom, a semiconductor shop whose circuit boards help transmit data over broadband networks. During the year, the percentage of growth funds owning its shares more than doubled, rising from 12% to 28%.
Sun Microsystems, whose servers and software bank on the Net, is another part of the new tech crowd. The percentage of big-cap growth funds owning Sun shares rose from an already high 52% to 67% this year. Like Intel among the Old Tech stocks, EMC is the exception here. The firm is in the hot data-storage business, but managers have reduced their exposure to the stock this year.
Beyond these stocks, there are plenty of other new tech stocks that have grown their way into several managers' benchmarks and hearts. In recent
10 Questions interviews, growth and tech fund managers have pointed to stocks like networkers
Juniper Networks and software shops
Siebel Systems and
Might be worth keeping an eye on these stocks, most of which are, to say the least, riding high this year. Many growth managers have put your money where their mouths are, but there are probably a lot of growth managers with a lot of money in their coffers who haven't bought shares yet.
Lost your copy of
Managing God's Mutual Funds
? It could've been yours on
for three bucks this morning. Unfortunately the auction closed at midday today.
Speaking of eBay, the online auction shop will report earnings Thursday. It's down more than 15% on the year, but it might be one of the few dot-coms to keep its following among the pros. On Sept. 30, about 11% of large-cap growth funds owned shares, compared with 10% on Jan. 1.
Fund Junkie runs every Monday and Wednesday. Ian McDonald writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He invites you to send your feedback to
email@example.com, but he cannot give specific financial advice.