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Best investment ideas in this ‘stock picker’ market: Pros

Friday, 16 Aug 2013 | 10:19 AM ET
Summer sell-off triggers triple-digit tantrum
Friday, 16 Aug 2013 | 7:02 AM ET
Jason Trennert, Strategas Research Partners, and Mark Okada, Highland Capital, provide investment strategies in a volatile market, as investors wrestle with taper fears and interest rate worries.

With the Fed's taper plans looming, investors can expect more big declines after the latest market sell-off, but that could create opportunities for stock pickers, top strategists told CNBC on Friday.

A long/short investment strategy can be highly profitable with an environment of heightened volatility, Mark Okada, co-founder and CIO at Highland Capital, said Friday on "Squawk Box."

"There is a lot of money that needs to be repriced and move into different places," Okada said. He also suggested that retail investors look into buying bank debt through ETFs or managed funds as broad economic factors improve.

In addition, Okada sees "dislocation" in the fixed income space. In such a situation, individual muni bonds can be a "great buy" when supported by underlying economic strength in local areas like Texas. However, it can be difficult for retail investors to have the needed perspective to make the right choices in the muni market, so putting money with an active manager could help.

Long-term, Okada is positive on the economy, but he called expectations of a calm market response to the start of the Federal Reserve's tapering of easy money a "fairy tale."

Jason Trennert, chief investment strategist at Strategas Research Partners, agreed that the markets will have a difficult reaction to the Fed's tapering. However, he told CNBC, the subsequent rise in interest rates isn't a big concern because it signals that growth is likely for corporate revenues and the broader economy.

(Related: Cramer: 'Giant reset' looming for markets)

Trennert expects multiple expansion as well as earnings growth, while money also flows into stocks as investors start to increasingly focus on duration and inflation risk in bonds. Investors are "taking an awful lot of risk to lend the government money—even at 2.8 percent—for 10 years. Let's be careful here."

He suggests that investors look into individual bank stocks, including regional banks, because they'll be increasingly focused on their core business of consumer lending in coming quarters. He also said that he likes muni bonds "in general," although he suggests staying away from troubled spots like Detroit, where there is heightened uncertainty.

Opportunity rising as stocks pullback: Expert
Eugene Profit, Profit Investment Management, reveals his bullish strategy of buying dips in the markets, including the recent pullback in Cisco.

Eugene Profit, CEO and portfolio manager at Profit Investment Management, is also bullish on markets despite recent pullbacks. "It's a very good time to be an equity investor. … It's a great time to be a stock picker," he told CNBC, pointing to improving operating margins and relative mispricing for individual companies "I think there are opportunities where you have quite a few stocks with high quality names that are trading down 11-12 percent in the P/E range."

Profit suggests looking at names like Cisco, buying on the dip after the company's earnings report and layoff announcement this week. "We're three-to-five-year investors and we think Cisco is heading in the right direction," he said.

(Related: Will US yield spike derail tapering plans?)

He also likes United Rentals, because "the industry is moving toward construction companies leasing equipment instead of buying to conserve capital. Essentially, this company is leveraged to an improving economy."

Jim McCaughan, CEO of Principal Global Investors, told CNBC that longer-term investors look to accumulate positions in emerging equities. In the next six to 12 months, he expects "extreme" volatility in emerging markets, although they offer potential in the long-term.

Trading a market in transition
Yesterday's sell-off was a buying opportunity, says Jim McCaughan of Principal Global Investors, discussing the impact of future Fed tapering on the markets, with Stephanie Link, TheStreet; Zachary Karabell, River Twice Research, and Jason Trennert, Strategas Research Partners.

Zach Karabell, president at River Twice Research, sees a trend of lower stock prices in August and thinks that interest rates on bonds are likely to "overshoot" in the near term with the likelihood that the Fed taper will begin next month.

Stephanie Link, CIO at TheStreet, said that the U.S. market is "in transition," and pullbacks offer opportunities to buy undervalued names. She also suggests buying Cisco on weakness as it shifts its business to high-growth areas.

In another area, she said investors should look to international names as many overseas economies are showing signs of stabilization. "Valuations are very cheap" in these areas, she told CNBC. For investors looking for exposure to gold, she suggests mining companies like Freeport McMoRan.

Paul Meeks, director at Saturna Capital, told "Squawk Box" he thinks Apple is headed toward $650 because of the likelihood of additional stock buybacks. He called Cisco a hold that could get more attractive around the $20-21 level.

— By CNBC's Paul Toscano. Follow him on Twitter @ToscanoPaul.

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