Two consumer discretionary stocks—Home Depot and VF Corp.—appear poised to do well in a cautiously optimistic shopping environment this holiday season, David Cassese, BlackRock portfolio manager, said Wednesday.
"We think you need to be selective," he said. "There's a few areas where we think there are tailwinds to help us along. One of them is clearly the housing market and spending on housing. If you look at residential investment as a percentage of GDP, or as a percentage of disposable income, we're still way below normal levels."
On CNBC's "Halftime Report, Cassese, who oversees the four-star Morningstar-rated Equity Divided Fund (MDDVX), said that he saw opportunity in the aging inventory of homes, "which means lots of deferred projects and deferred maintenance."
"We think there's a lot of catch-up spending that needs to happen there, so we think we have a few years left of a nice tailwind in spending on the home, and Home Depot is our preferred way to play that."
Cassese also said that VF Corp. was attractive because of a tailwind in the area of performance and athletic apparel.
"We see a huge spike in participation in athletics and health and fitness. We think that's a trend that's pretty secular," he said.
"One of our favorite ways to play that is VF Corp. They have a really nice, diversified portfolio of brands, with global appeal, and that's really important. There's a nice runway of growth internationally for some of these companies, especially for big, global brands, and we think they'll benefit from that."
VF Corp.'s brands include 7 for All Mankind, Lee, The North Face, Majestic, Wrangler and Nautica.
Cassese said that he analyzed the consumer the way he would a company.
"When we look at the average consumer right now, the balance sheet is in good shape, but the income statement is under pressure. And what I mean by that is, on the balance sheet side the debt burdens are down, but the asset values are up, so their home value and their portfolios are higher," he said.
"And so, if you look at household net worth, we're looking at near or all-time highs, but when you look at the income statement, the story is a little bit different. There's a lot more pressure there. The job market's weak. Disposable income growth is negligible, and there's a lot of pressure there."
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