If you like to mock fund managers and the media, here's some little-needed ammo. But you might want to look it over before you pull the trigger.
Every week, I sit down with a different money manager and ask
10 questions about the market -- where they see opportunities and where they see traps, for instance. And every week, I ask what three stocks they'd buy and hold for five years. If you'd bought some of those stocks, you'd probably be getting ready to swing by our offices and re-enact one or two scenes from
. Suffice to say some of these managers' picks -- like most stocks these days -- have been heading south.
This doesn't mean these managers aren't smart, and it also doesn't mean you should ignore these picks. After all, these mostly growth-fund pros chose these stocks to hold for five years -- and that's a long, long way away. Given the steep selloff among tech and telecommunications stocks, it's tough to say whether these picks' early stumble doesn't just illustrate that the market is about as elegant and fun as a goat rodeo these days. The tech-laden
Nasdaq Composite Index
is lately down 37% from its March 10 peak.
The knee-jerk response is to point at the scoreboard while still in the first quarter and laugh. A better way to process this data, though, is to say, "The smart money thought these were the best long-term bets, and they've gotten cheaper since managers made their call. They might be worth a look." So, let's assess the damage and look these ideas over before we file them in the dustbin.
We started the 10 questions weekly interviews back in
June. Of the first eight managers' 24 picks for five years, a little over half are
under water since the interview was published. Over the last couple of months, another 11 managers have picked more than 30 stocks they'd hold for five years.
picked three he'd hold for a year. About two-thirds of these picks are in the red since they were published.
Clearly, many of these five-year picks have had inauspicious starts.
Invesco Telecommunications fund manager Brian Hayward singled out network shops
, in addition to chipmaker
Applied Micro Circuits
Oct. 16 interview -- one week before Nortel missed Wall Street analysts' lofty revenue estimates. Since the interview, the trio of picks are down 24.5%, 40.7% and 29.1%, respectively.
He's hardly alone. Aaron Harris, manager of the
Gartmore Millennium Growth fund also went with two networkers and a chip shop -- a tough combination lately. Since his
Oct. 9 interview, in which he picked
, the stocks are down 31.6%, 16.6% and 39.8%, respectively, according to
But there have also been hits, like
, which is up 26.6% since
Merrill Lynch Healthcare's Jordan Schreiber picked it in an
Aug. 14 interview and up 10.8% since Ken Kam, manager of the
Marketocracy Medical Specialists fund, picked it in an
interview published last week.
is up more than 37% since Jim Schmidt, manager of the
John Hancock Financial Industries fund, picked it in a
July 31 interview.
Kevin Rendino, manager of the
Merrill Lynch Basic Value fund, picked PC maker
and aerospace titan
June 12 interview. Since then, the stocks are up 17% and 36.9% respectively.
It's early days for these picks, and they shouldn't cast any of these folks as heroes or goats. Hayward's Invesco Telecommunications fund, for instance, has trounced more than 90% of its peers since he took the reins three years ago. And Harris helped run the
Nicholas-Applegate Global Technology fund, which beat all funds last year, before taking the reins of his new fund, which has done well, too.
Keep in mind that when I ask these folks for their five-year picks, they're singling out the companies with the smartest managers, who are standing in front of solid long-term growth. So, although they might not look cheap or pretty these days, a look at the favorites of these managers might at least spur some ideas if you're the buy-and-hold type.
Noticeably absent are big software bellwethers like
. Among all the picks from the last four months of interviews, only JDS Uniphase, Millennium Pharmaceuticals and business-to-business software shops
have been chosen by more than one fund manager. But overall, there's a palpable networking flavor to these managers' picks.
Clearly, many managers believe that the buildout and upgrade of the world's communications networks is a real and lasting growth trend. Aside from JDS Uniphase, they've also chosen
, Juniper Networks, Extreme Networks,
, Nortel Networks and heavyweight
Though many of these picks are sagging under the weight of thin-air valuations and decreased corporate spending on networking equipment, these pros' collective bullishness over the next five years might be a shot in the arm if you're wondering what to do with your Cisco shares or your Nortel-sick growth fund.
How much do they like networkers? It was brave enough for
John Hancock Funds'
Quinlisk to buy it for his fund and use it for one of his picks. Marketocracy's Ken Kam noted in his Oct. 23 interview that he'd bought it for his personal portfolio, even though it has consistently disappointed Wall Street analysts and is down more than 70% since Jan. 1.
Now that's confidence.
Election Day is around the corner, and if you're wondering which candidates have gotten the most donations from brokerages and money management shops like your fund company, the answer -- surprise, surprise -- is Republicans, who've gotten about 60% of Wall Street-types' cash, according to the
Open Secrets Web site.
Don't forget to check out the portfolio makeovers our own K.C. Swanson wrote for
George W. Bush and
Ralph Nader, among others.