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‘Sell in May’ won’t work: Citi’s Tobias Levkovich

Focused on banks & REITs: Strategist

Expect earnings growth to push stocks higher, Citigroup Chief U.S. Equity Strategist Tobias Levkovich said Wednesday.

"I'm not really worried about the 'sell in May and go away' view this year," he said. "It doesn't work when economic data starts to improve."

On CNBC's "Halftime Report,"Levkovich, who has a 1,975 price target for the S&P 500, named utilities as his top sector pick.

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"If we want to talk about winners year to date, you should be buying utilities, and nobody wanted to touch them earlier this year," he said, … adding that he was looking at a more long-term time horizon, not just economic data on a month-to-month basis.

"That's just noise," he added.

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Levkovich's other top sectors included banks, technology and real estate.

"We're actually more focused on the regional banks and the REITs," he said, noting that he had shifted from more diversified financial names.

Levkovich also called out retail investors' cash, which dwarfs corporate cash sitting overseas as an indicator.

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"More importantly, if you look at the $9-plus trillion in household deposits— twice what it was 10 years ago, earning a negative real yield—not having made its way into equities or other financial assets. That money can lead to multiple expansion if it really comes through," he said.

"And I'm not banking on a massive flow of retail money starting to move to markets. But clearly, that shows the fear is still there because why would you earn 10, 15 basis points in the bank if you could even get a 2 percent dividend yield?"

By CNBC's Bruno J. Navarro.