NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- On a day when retail sales numbers were better than expected and jobless claims numbers surged, George Young, co-portfolio manager of the Villere Equity Fund, told TheStreet's Ruben Ramirez he expects consumers will continue to spend and the jobs numbers will improve in 2014.
"We tend to be eternal optimists at Villere Income, and we like to think that the economy's going to be a lot stronger," Young said. "There are a lot of interesting things that are happening right now. You've got housing, which is a big important part. You've got Christmas consumers that plays about a 70% role in the health of the economy."
Young said Villere looks for stocks that investors can buy and hold. "We've got plenty of stocks as bottom-up investors that we think are going to do well regardless of how the economy plays out," he said. "We also happen to be domestically oriented." Young said there's a "big bubble" in Asia and little growth in Europe. "So America's really the place to be," he said.
One stock he recommends is the retailer Conn's ( CONN). "It's a retailer but it's really a financing company," he said of the company that has about 70 stores in Texas and New Mexico and is expanding westward.
"What's interesting is only about a third of their customers are cash and carry," Young said. "The rest Conn's finances" at a rate of about 20%.
"It's important because the things they sell are what people need to get started," he said. "They sell mattresses, washer-dryers, big-screen TVs, those sort of big-ticket items."
Young added that the stock price has tripled in the past year.
-- Written by Carla Baranauckas in New York.