Finding the Right Path in an Up-and-Down Market


Like Mr. Paolini, Mr. Pyle at BlackRock prefers European stocks.

They “tend to be fairly cyclical, and we expect cyclicality to have room for performance,” Mr. Pyle said. The region “has more potential upside and more resilience to the downside.”

Mr. Pyle acknowledged that a shift into cyclicals or other out-of-favor areas is no sure thing. If gridlock in Washington continues, for instance, “quality stocks like tech are going to continue to be a tried-and-true theme,” he said, while unified Democratic control would encourage a rotation into market segments like smaller companies. “We’re on an important knife edge economically,” he added.

Some investors put off by the high prices of the technology giants are looking for smaller tech stocks that are cheaper and have more room to grow.

“If everybody’s pointing at something, it’s pretty hard to make outstanding returns,” said Kevin Landis, chief investment officer for Firsthand Funds, which runs portfolios of publicly and privately traded tech stocks. “I’m trying to think of the last time it was easy to make money buying the obvious thing.”

He has been buying stocks like Roku, a distributor of streaming entertainment that is a less obvious alternative to Netflix and, like Netflix, has had its growth accelerated by the pandemic.

Another portfolio holding that has been helped by the pandemic is Chegg, a provider of online education services and textbooks, which Mr. Landis expects to benefit from a new emphasis on “student empowerment.”

“The reinvention of education is in its infancy,” he said. “These people are in front of that.”

Other fund managers are seeking stocks that encompass features of what’s hot and what’s out of fashion. Mr. Temple at Lazard, who is one of the lead managers on the Vanguard Windsor II fund, likes companies for which technology is a crucial element but that operate in industries where performance has been subdued, such as energy, financial services or health care.



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