Five Spot: James Says Worst Is Yet to Come

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Barry James, manager of the $529 million James Balanced: Golden Rainbow Fund ( GLRBX), is bearish on the stock market. James, whose fund has outperformed 98% of its rivals over five years, says investors ought to consider buying gold.

The Golden Rainbow Fund has risen an annual average of 5.1% since mid-2004. This year, the fund has fallen 2.8%. It gets Morningstar's highest rating of five stars.

Welcome to TheStreet.com's 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?

James: Our long-term indicators, which we update every weekend, remain highly bearish. Corporate insiders, often the smartest money on Wall Street, have been voting with their pocketbook and selling. Further, Washington's growing interference in the marketplace is simply prolonging the problems the economy faces. We expect the market has not yet found its ultimate bottom.

What is your top stock pick?

James: Central Garden and Pet ( CENT) is one stock we like quite a bit. Although it is a retailer, and thus in the cyclical sector, it enjoys many non-cyclical characteristics. This is mostly due to the fact that over half of their sales go towards pet products and people do not give up on their pets. Also, the company itself, another group of "smart money" investors, has been buying back its own shares.

What is your top "beneath the radar," or sleeper, stock?

James: SPDR Gold Trust ( GLD) is an interesting play for certain investors looking to get gold into their portfolios. This exchange-traded fund holds the actual gold bullion and provides an excellent opportunity to benefit from gold's price movement without actually having to physically take hold of the precious metal. Government action has more than doubled the money base since last fall. Too much money in the system is a sure-fire recipe to weaken the dollar, which typically has a positive impact on the price of gold.

What is your favorite sector?

James: Our research suggests overweighting the basic materials sector, with a special emphasis on the precious metals area.

What sector or stock would you avoid?

James: Our data suggests underweighting the energy sector. Unlike many of the prognosticators, we think the economy still has yet to recover. This equates to lower demand and lower energy prices. We would not be surprised to see oil once again trade below $40 a barrel before the economic downturn is complete. Additionally, Washington's "cap-and-trade" ideas, which would provide a questionable benefit on the climate-change equation, would have a definite negative effect on earnings in the energy sector.
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.