Take some risk off in 2014: Citigroup
Volatility likely will pick up in 2014, making it time to move into defensive sectors, such as utilities, Citigroup's chief U.S. equity strategist said Thursday.
There are three reasons for the call: attractive valuation, improvement in earnings revisions and a more cyclical environment than most thought, according to Tobias Levkovich.
"Just an example: The petrochemical industry uses 10 percent of the electricity in the United States," he said. "If we are ... getting the benefits from oil and gas, more refining capacity, more chemical capacity, that's actually going to benefit these companies in ways most people don't perceive."
"Industrials is a place where a lot of people want to put some money to work," he said. "I think the stocks in many cases have reflected that."
But certain areas, such as commercial aerospace, would continue to perform well, while mining companies probably would not see a positive turnaround, Levkovich added.
Levkovich forecast a 13 percent increase in tech capital spending next year, signaling a positive move for the sector. Oilfield services would also outperform, he said.
S&P 500 earnings could feasibly rise about 7 percent next year, Levkovich said. "I don't think they'll be up 10, 12, unless we have robust growth economically around the world."
Citigroup's 2014 year-end target for the S&P is 1,900.
Momentum stocks could run out of steam in 2014, Levkovich said, adding that "it's the areas that have already run that you may not see the continued expansion on in very robust ways."
"This market is what we call LMNOP—liquidity momentum, not operating performance," he said. "I'm worried about when that momentum stops. You don't want to be the last person without a chair."
Europe is another area to be wary about, as the continent's widely expected turnaround will be modest at best.
"We think there'll be some disappointment there," Levkovich said.