Starbucks stock retreated in heavy volume after a report suggested the coffee chain's growth may be losing some steam.» Read More
With Gustav apparently heading for America's oil and gas fields in the Gulf of Mexico, Eric Marshall says there are some swiftly-developing opportunities for investors.
"We wouldn't buy or sell a stock based on a single weather event, but one area that we do like long-term is the natural-gas stocks," the Hodges Capital Management portfolio manager told CNBC.
Not just any natural-gas stocks, of course.
Five-star fund manager David Scott says a couple of stocks that are trading at the top of their range still deserve serious consideration by investors. One of the stocks is in oil services and the other, in cyber-security. Scott's Chase Growth Fund is up an average of 8.87 percent per year over the last five years.
Topping his list is Schlumberger. Isn't everybody who's going to get into this oil-services giant already there?
"We think at this point you should look at it as a growth company," he told CNBC. "Looking out over the next several years, regardless of where oil trades...this company, because of its world position...its strong balance sheet, tis broad array of products, will have a strong 20+ percent growth rate."
Scott agrees that Symantec is trading at its 52-week high.
"I think that speaks to the fact that the company's done very well in a fairly difficult environment," he said. "The market for anti-virus and maintenance software is strong, and will stay strong regardless of the economy."
Gabe Hilmoe is getting an early start on the stock market. He's portfolio manager of the Henry Fund at the University of Iowa, and he's got some strong ideas about equity investments.
The Henry Fund, like many student-run investment vehicles, operates with real money, and the 12 MBA students who run it currently handle about $1.5 million. Hilmoe specializes in the health-care side of the portfolio.
"Right now, we still like Genentech," he told CNBC. "We still see more upside, with another Roche bid coming in."
It's not just biotech that he likes; in the medical device field, he's enthusiastic about Stryker .
Nancy Tooke argues that investors can find big things in small-cap stocks, and she has a couple of names she thinks will bear that out. Her four-star Eaton Vance Special Equity Fund is up an average of 16.02 percent per year over the last three years, and even shows a 3.05 percent appreciation year-to-date.
Her first pick is Gildan Activewear.
"At this particular point, while the customer is cutting back, the customer is buying necessities, and Gildan actually sells underwear," Tooke told CNBC. "No soccer mom in the United States is going to send her kids out on the soccer field with holey socks."
She sees other pluses in Gildan as well.
"This is a very well-managed company, and it has been a high-growth company in the past," she said.
She also likes solar-energy company Renesola.
"We have been looking for ideas in the alternative-energy space," she said. "It seems that regardless of who wins the presidential election, that's going to be an area of emphasis in both platforms, and Renesola is a cheap stock in a very good neighborhood."
Technology has been a tough call lately, and no one knows that better than J. & W. Seligman's Richard Parower. His four-star Seligman Global Technology Fund is up an average of 10.08 percent per year over the last five years, but it's down more than 9 percent year-to-date. He finds some security in securities of companies that deal in, well, security.
"You definitely have to pick your spots," Parower told CNBC. "With Europe slowing, and the U.S. still sort of bouncing along...we would expect the stocks to pull back in the near term, hoping for a year-end rally, although we don't think we're going to get to positive territory by the end of the year."
A pullback would be an entry point -- but for which stocks?
"We like security-software companies, companies like CheckPoint (Software Technology), like McAfee, like Symantec, where their customers have to go out and buy the software to secure their corporate data, and their networks," he said.
It's not just cyber-security that makes a tech stock attractive to Parower.
"We like companies like Amdocs, which is in customer care and billing software for telcos," he said. "They deliver software that helps their customers retain their own customers, and save telcos a lot of money."
He's also enthusiastic about Nice Systems.
You're never too young to pick stocks, and 21-year-old Laura Bordelon is living -- and investing -- proof. She's portfolio manager of the Green and Gold Fund, although she's just started her senior year at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
"It's very exciting to be investing real money while we're still students," Bordelon told CNBC. "We have about $400,000 right now."
So which stocks fire her enthusiasm?
"We like Zimmer Holdings," she said. "It's a leading orthopedic company; they are the leading provider of hip and knee replacements worldwide, and we think they're in a great position to take advantage of the U.S. demographic right now, with all the Baby Boomers reaching retirement age."
That's not the only health-care company on her list.
"We also like Sanofi Aventis," she said. "They have a very promising pipeline right now, and they've also aggressively been paying down debt, which offers them good opportunity to acquire some other companies."
Also among her picks is Canon.
"We think they have a really strong management team; their good brand name will protect them from some of their competitors; and they also have a healthy balance sheet, with low debt and high margins," she said.
David Sowerby says investors make the most money when they run against the herd. The chief market analyst of Loomis Sayles says people are gloomy right now -- and that's his buy signal.
"There's some opportunities that are wonderful off these July 15 lows in the market," he told CNBC. "We've seen that those subprime-infected stocks that did not rally off the 'fake' March 10 lows, they have started to move up."
Who's he talking about?
"Names like Pulte (Homes), which I think is the highest-quality homebuilder; Gap, on the retail side, which had a 4 percent margin expansion in their most recent quarter; Monroe Muffler, not a large-cap name, but I think there's wonderful opportunities in small- and mid-cap names, good, consitent cash flow generator," he said.
There may be an upturn coming, but Michael Farr isn't ready to bet on it just yet. The president of Farr, Miller and Washington says stocks in companies that produce consumer staples are a lot more promising than those that produce discretionary goods.
"I think that betting on consumer discretionary is way too premature," he told CNBC. "Stick with the staples."
"I like Pepsi, I like Sysco, Colgate Palmolive, I like Procter & Gamble ," he said. "I like these core names; they're very stable during periods like this; they've got strong double-digit earnings growth; they've got 2 to 3 percent dividends, on average; they weather through periods like this."
U.S. bank Wells Fargo and insurer AFLAC are worth snapping up even though the financial sector has been sold off indiscriminately, because they are steady players that offer strong long-term growth, Jason Pride, director of research from Haverford Trust told CNBC Wednesday.
Cory Scott is a second-semester MBA student at the Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. And he's been doing his homework.
He's already wading into the tricky waters of managing investments. There's about $350,000 in his fund, the student-managed Shollmier Fund -- and it's up an average of 7.5 percent per year over the last three years.
What's Scott's strategy?
"We're actually value investors, mixed between value and growth," he told CNBC. "We actually have a hybrid fund, so we have great flexibility; we have futures, options, and a lot of possibilities we can run with."
His first pick is no surprise: Arkansas' own Walmart.
"Americans like to save money, and Walmart fits the bill," he said. "We like them, we like their growth in China, and Mexico, and the things they're doing."
Energy also figures in the plan.
"We like Transocean," he said. "They're flush in cash...they're also in prime position in the industry in case Congress lifts the (ban on offshore drilling)."
His third pick combines health care and technology.
"We also like Medtronic, medical devices; that's the inevitable future of the actual demographic of the United States population," he said.
Scott isn't just concerned about plus signs; there are a few minuses on his mind as well.
"We do a lot of shorts," he said. "I would actually like to short Research In Motion right now; with the cell phones and the smart phones...the market is coming to maturity."