US consumer is doing fine: Ladenburg's Phil Blancato

Drop of oil prices good for economy: CEO
Drop of oil prices good for economy: CEO   

The U.S. consumer is in decent shape in the current low oil environment, according to Phil Blancato, president and CEO of Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management.

Blancato told CNBC's "Closing Bell" on Thursday that the U.S. consumer is in better shape than most investors would think.

"Strip out gasoline from consumer spending, you look at the underbelly, the numbers are great. ... And yet there's this sentiment that things are terrible," he said.

"Remember as gasoline fell, the amount we spend on gasoline falls, so consumer retail spending numbers are artificially suppressed," Blancato explained.

This isn't to say that he is overly optimistic. He remains worried about the fixed income market and the current yield on the U.S. 10-year Treasury. Blancato adds that he wants to see a liftoff in the small- and mid-cap names.

"They need uplift in the economy. Without them, you don't get strength there," he explained.

Blancato currently likes large-cap and consumer discretionary names, which he believes are cheap.

"I like Costco. I like Home Depot going into the spring. I still like Under Armour and Starbucks, the big names, that's where people are spending money," he said.

"Look at earnings, earnings for the fourth quarter were really good in (the consumer discretionary) sector and yet the sector got pounded. So far year to date, it's cheaper than the S&P and valuations are not that bad," Blancato said.

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