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How to Fish for the Best Financials


What fund manager Anton Schutz sees ahead for the sector.

Shares of financial services companies have rebounded fast and furiously since the market bottomed in early March. The sector is expected to be the best performer in the third quarter, with earnings forecasted to climb an average 59% from the year-ago period.

That's why we figured it was a perfect time to find out what a fund manager specializing in financial stocks has to say about the sector's outlook. Anton Schutz is the 45-year-old manager of the Burnham Financial Industries Fund (BURFX), where he's proven himself a capable skipper and a skilled stock picker.

Through October 7, the fund's five-year annualized return of 9.28% bests the S&P 500 by 8.54 percentage points, and it leads its Morningstar rivals by 16.68 percentage points, landing in the top 3% of its category.

The five-star BURFX, which carries a front-end load of 5%, requires a minimum investment of $2,500.

We checked in with Schutz to get his take on the economy, the outlook for financial service companies, and his top picks. As an added bonus, we learned what fishing can teach us about investing.

Minyanville: Before picking stocks, you start with a top-down view of the US economy. So, what's your macroeconomic view right now?

Anton Schutz: We are in a recovery phase, although it doesn't feel like one because it's a jobless recovery. But I expect GDP to be positive over the next few quarters. Eventually, I expect job losses to subside, but that doesn't happen until the second quarter of next year. Capital markets are healthy given all the liquidity out there. So we have a steep yield curve, an accommodative Fed, and lots of liquidity.

Minyanville: What does that mean for you, as an investor?

Schutz: For me, it's an interesting time to look at companies that will benefit from all those factors. From a capital markets perspective, anybody that is underwriting debt or equity is doing very well right now. You've seen a huge recovery in security prices, which has benefited everyone from life insurance companies to mortgage REITs.

Minyanville: Switching gears to your area of expertise: the financials. Is the banking system on more solid footing now?

Schutz: It is in many ways. We have seen a tremendous amount of capital raised by the system. Also, the system has built loan loss reserves at an aggressive fashion. That makes for a sounder balance sheet. The system itself is certainly safer.

Minyanville: What's your outlook for equity investments in the financials?

Schutz: The next three to five years will be a terrific time to create returns in the space. The current shift is for the healthy to buy the sick, so you want to own the healthy. But, looking ahead, you want to try to find more targets because M&A will be very powerful. Then we will look at divestitures as big banks divest entities that aren't as profitable to them. I think the regulators will make it very uncomfortable for the large financial companies so they will sell off assets eventually. And there will be money to be made doing that too.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

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