Five Spot: Raymond James, Tech to Gain

chart

Chris Guinther, manager of the RidgeWorth Small Cap Growth Stock Fund ( SSCTX), is bullish on technology firms such as Synaptics ( SYNA) and CyberSource ( CYBS), and expects shares of Raymond James Financial ( RJF) to gain during the next two years.

The fund, which is rated five stars by Morningstar ( MORN), is up 4.5% this year, while the Russell 2000 Index remains little changed. It has lost 26% annually, on average, during the past three years, compared with a 24% decline for the benchmark.

Guinther shares his views in 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?

Guinther: We are bullish over the long term, thinking that the earnings expectations for most companies are set low for the remainder of the year and that they will need to be raised modestly for 2009 and 2010.

We focus on the direction of earnings expectations, which has historically driven the direction of stock prices. We think the overall equity market will grind higher over the next 12 to 24 months as expectations are broadly increased. Over the next two years, we are confident that unemployment will peak, stimulus dollars will begin to work, credit will ease and the economy will again begin to grow.

What is your top stock pick?

Guinther: Our top stock idea right now is Raymond James Financial ( RJF). We've calculated its normal earnings power within two years to be nearly $300 million per year, up from an expected trough of $125 million in 2009. We expect the company should be valued conservatively at 12 times normal earnings which would equate to a market value of $3.6 billion versus its current market value of $1.9 billion.

Currently, there is much concern over the company's commercial real estate portfolio, which is facing significant losses and keeping earnings depressed and the stock price low. We believe credit losses will broadly ease going forward. Raymond James's earnings potential will become more widely known and reflected in what we believe will be an increasing stock price.

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

Guinther: Our favorite sleeper pick is ICF International ( ICFI). The company has a sticky revenue model with the U.S. government as its largest client. ICF International's unique skill set is consistent with the new administration's focus on energy efficiency, green initiatives, infrastructure development, homeland defense and social program expansion. Recent backlog growth was up 33% versus the prior year in the first quarter, suggesting new business opportunities have already begun.

The price-to-earnings ratio of 18 through earnings per share of $1.40 is enticing given their solid growth prospects and recurring business model. Free cash flow should be greater than $30 million in 2009, equating to a free cash flow yield of greater than 9%.

What is your favorite sector?

Guinther: Technology companies continue to garner a greater and greater share of both the enterprise customer and consumer spending. As has been the case for many years, the productivity benefits offered through technology purchases continues to encourage buyers of all types to purchase and upgrade all types of technology. High return-on-investment rates can be had by both personal and corporate decision makers. CyberSource, Ariba ( ARBA), Synaptics, Omniture ( OMTR) and Skyworks Solutions ( SWKS) are some favored technology holdings.

What sector or stock would you avoid?

Guinther: We are most cautious of the health care sector. Proposed radical changes by Washington gives us little clarity, and therefore very little confidence that profits will broadly improve for most health care companies as the government mandates cost cuts.
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.

If you liked this article you might like

Cramer vs. Chaikin: Raymond James Will Benefit From the Strong Economy

Cramer vs. Chaikin: Raymond James Will Benefit From the Strong Economy

There Is Good and a Lot of Bad in General Electric Earnings

There Is Good and a Lot of Bad in General Electric Earnings

16 Amazing Stocks to Trade in This Unstoppable Bull Market

16 Amazing Stocks to Trade in This Unstoppable Bull Market

19 Amazing Stocks to Buy With Economy Doing Great

19 Amazing Stocks to Buy With Economy Doing Great

Analog Devices Coverage Re-Initiated at Raymond James

Analog Devices Coverage Re-Initiated at Raymond James