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As stocks near high, is it time to cherry pick?

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
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With stocks near record highs, some strategists are recommending investors focus on stock-picking select names and sectors, rather than just throwing money at the broader market.

The S&P 500 is up 22.5 percent for the year so far, and some strategists had expected it to top out around 1750. The S&P closed at 1746 Wednesday, off 8 points. The , which has yet to recover September's high, was off 54 at 15,413.

(Read more: Here are five trends this earnings' season)

Even if these indexes continue to rise into year end, the best gains may come from individual plays rather than the indexes. While stocks can crash and burn, the broader market is also vulnerable to a pullback.