Technology stocks have been rallying for weeks.
But there are plenty of arguments that we’re in the midst of a bear-market rally and that more volatility lies ahead, especially for the rapidly growing, but not necessarily profitable, technology stocks that performed so well during the previous bull market through late 2021.
Robert Stimpson, chief investment officer for Oak Associates Funds, made the case that a “financials first approach” to companies with staying power is the best one for the current environment, with risks that include rising interest rates and a possible recession.
During an interview, Stimpson, who has been with the firm for 21 years and co-manages the $544 million Red Oak Technology Select Fund ROGSX,
That last part might include share buybacks, which increase earnings per share, dividend increases or acquisitions expected to increase earnings per share.
The fund has a low-turnover approach, currently holds 26 stocks and has a four-star rating, the second-highest, from Morningstar.
A company doesn’t necessarily have to pay a dividend to be among the fund’s holdings, Stimpson said, but “it has to show respect for investors,” which includes a “non-hubristic approach to acquisitions.”
A closer look at the tech-stock rally
Here’s a one-year chart showing the movement of the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP,
The Nasdaq has rallied 23% from its 2022 closing low on June 16 and it is now down 17% for the year. The Nasdaq-100 Index NDX,
To be sure, the Red Oak Technology Select Fund hasn’t escaped this year’s broad decline — it has fallen 17% for 2022.
Despite the better-than-expected inflation numbers for July, the Federal Reserve is expected to stay the course and continue raising interest rates to cool the economy. Rising interest rates always put pressure on stock prices — even more so for tech stocks. That’s because their gains had been driven by sales growth, or even by emotional reactions to their potential for “disruptive innovation,” rather than increases in profit, cash flow and deployment of capital in ways meant to benefit shareholders.
“When we were in a zero-interest-rate environment, the acceptance of risk was much higher. Capital was cheap and companies that were not expected to become profitable for a while were acceptable,” Stimpson said.
Looking ahead, he recommends investors avoid investing in companies on the expectation that they will eventually grow into current valuations that appear “lofty.”
Stimpson was quick to agree that the Red Oak Technology Select Fund’s “high-quality blue-chip approach” to tech stocks underperformed during the last bull market.
“Do I wish we owned Nvidia for the past 20 years? Absolutely — it has been a monster,” he said.
But Nvidia Corp. NVDA,
It is hardly surprising that the Red Oak Technology Select Fund trailed QQQ, when central-bank and fiscal policies did so much to support even the riskiest tech stocks. But the fund has beaten the S&P 500’s SPX,
Stimpson said that over the past year, the fund has been reducing holdings tied to consumer electronics, because the management team believed “demand had been puled forward during the pandemic for gaming, homes, etc.” He also said they had “lightened up on semiconductors,” and increased holdings in enterprise-class software companies.
Here are the 10 largest holdings of the Red Oak Technology Select Fund as of June 30:
|Company||Ticker||Share of fund||First purchased|
|Alphabet Inc. Class C|| GOOG,
|Apple Inc.|| AAPL,
|Amazon.com Inc.|| AMZN,
|Microsoft Corp.|| MSFT,
|Cisco Systems Inc.|| CSCO,
|Meta Platforms Inc. Class A|| META,
|KLA Corp.|| KLAC,
|Oracle Corp.|| ORCL,
|Synopsys Inc.|| SNPS,
|Intel Corp.|| INTC,
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