Contrafund's Will Danoff Bullish For 2013: What Stocks He Likes ~ market folly

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Contrafund's Will Danoff Bullish For 2013: What Stocks He Likes

Will Danoff is manager of Fidelity's Contrafund and he recently sat down with Fidelity Viewpoints to share his outlook for 2013.  He's bullish and so we wanted to highlight what stocks he's looking at.

On Why He's Bullish This Year

"I’m bullish. Stocks are relatively cheap, and U.S. companies have become much leaner. Management teams were worried about the environment, so they were conserving cash and allocating capital prudently. M&A activity was down about 20% in 2012. Boards were saying, 'We’re not going for the long ball. We’re going to focus on maintaining lean inventories, low capital spending, and tight expenses.' As a result, companies are nicely profitable and generating a lot of cash.

So looking forward, I’m hopeful that we’re going to have modest top-line growth that will lead to decent earnings-per-share growth, good free-cash-flow yields, and total returns that may be a lot better than what we will see from cash and bonds."

He also went on to say that,

"My guess is a year from now the economy’s going to improve and stocks are going to be a good place to be. I’m bullish. So, I think if you’re in cash, you have to really think hard about it and say, 'How much cash do I really need?'"

This is a concept that's been talked about by many managers, including Bridgewater's Ray Dalio who said cash will move into 'stuff' in 2013.  David Tepper of Appaloosa Management has also been quite bullish.

What Stocks He Likes

Danoff notes that the key to his strategy has been identifying the best companies in each industry.  There's a few themes/industries he likes this year, and they all seem hinged on an economic recovery: housing, manufacturing, and industrials.

In particular, the Contrafund manager says he's finding most opportunities that should benefit from more competitive US manufacturing (companies are moving plants back from overseas).

He also likes US companies with lots of international exposure, like Colgate-Palmolive (CL), Estee Lauder (EL), and Starbucks (SBUX).

In tech, he likes internet plays such as Google (GOOG), Facebook (FB), and Yahoo (YHOO).  He also is bullish on the software as a service trend, fancying the likes of Workday (WDAY), (CRM), and Concur (CNQR).

On Tech Giants Google (GOOG) & Apple (AAPL)

These two tech giants are some of his fund's largest holdings.

Danoff's take on Google: "The stock has done basically nothing since 2007, but the earnings have roughly doubled, and the company is generating a huge amount of free cash flow—we estimate the stock is producing roughly a 9% free-cash-flow yield. And net of the cash, the stock has been trading around 13 times earnings while core revenues have been growing almost 20% annually. So I have believed that Google could continue to grow and had the potential for P/E (price-to-earning multiple) expansion."

We've also highlighted how Ricky Sandler's hedge fund Eminence Capital has been bullish on Google as well as it's their largest position at around a 9% position for them.

Danoff also notes that AAPL has been a good holding for his fund as the company's been generating a ton of free cash flow.  The problem is that most of it is overseas (and it's a massive amount of money too) and he also pointed out that competition has intensified in the smartphone and tablet markets.  You can read more of Danoff's outlook here.

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