People Can't Live Without Apple, Starbucks

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (TheStreet) -- Apple (AAPL) and Starbucks (SBUX) won't suffer from a slowdown in consumer spending because people can't live without their products, says Peter Tuz, who helps manage the Chase Growth Fund (CHASX).

The $530 million mutual fund has fallen 6.9% this year, less than the 8.6% decline of its peers that buy large companies with fast earnings growth. The Chase Growth Fund has risen 6.7% over the past year, trailing rivals' 11% advance.

Welcome to TheStreet.com's Fund Manager Five Spot, where America's top mutual fund managers give their best stock picks and views on the market in a five-question format.

Can growth stocks grow in this so-called age of austerity?

Tuz: It depends on the company. You have a company like Apple, which is a classic growth stock selling must-have consumer electronics, which will be fine. And then you will have others that will have trouble growing unless they get some pricing power going forward.

Why are the pharmacy-benefit managers a good area of health care to invest in?

Tuz: Health care is an interesting area right now. Companies like Express Scripts ( ESRX), AmerisourceBergen ( ABC) and McKesson ( MCK) will benefit as more people are brought into the health-care system. You have 30 million or so uninsured people who are going to be taking generic drugs that come through McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and are negotiated for by Express Scripts. They are volume-driven as opposed to price- and new-product driven.

You favor Newfield Exploration (NFX) as an energy company.

Tuz: Newfield is a mid-cap oil-and-gas producer largely based onshore in North America with very little exposure to the Gulf of Mexico. More importantly, because of some major new discoveries, its production should grow at the low double-digit rate for two or three more years.

Among consumer-discretionary stocks, you like Starbucks. Won't people give up their expensive coffee in this time of belt-tightening?

Tuz: We don't think so. People will give up their mortgages before they give up their Starbucks. Plus, Starbucks has done a great job in improving their margins over the past couple of years.

You don't own any financial shares. Why?

Tuz: We are extensive users of quantitative screens, including things like improving earnings and improving returns on equity. You just don't see that in the traditional financial services anymore. It's a tumultuous area, at best, and we like to shy away from risk when we can do so.

-- Reported by Gregg Greenberg in New York.

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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.

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