A similar story plays out in the financial sector. Bank of America, which reported a surge in fourth-quarter profits, has seen shares increase by more than 6 percent in 2014. Meanwhile, shares of Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs shares have lost about 5 percent or more.
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Many investors, of course, look past short-term returns in search of longer-term growth opportunities. IBM, for example, is down about 2 percent so far this year, but Martin Leclerc, portfolio manager at Barrack Yard Advisors, said he sees potential in the stock because of the company's free cash flow yield.
"Our goal is to buy great businesses at good prices," he said. "In the information technology area, IBM and Cisco are great companies. I've seen the free cash flow yield of a stock comport in a general way with its long-term rate of return. The free cash flow yields on IBM and Cisco are around 10 percent."
(Read more: Traders in hunt for real economy)
Looking at the overall market, Robert Luna of Surevest Wealth Management said that stock-picking could maximize profits through the next two years.
"I think this year you'll finally see for the first in about five or six years where active management does outperform," he said. "Whether you're picking individual stocks yourself or looking for the mutual fund managers who are able to do that for you—that's where investors want to be domestically."