Wells Fargo: Here's where to put your money now

Wells Fargo: These are the sectors to play throughout the year

As the market braces for a possible rate hike later in the year, one the highest-regarded Wall Street strategists sees opportunities ahead.

On Thursday's "Futures Now, " Wells Fargo institutional equity strategist Gina Martin Adams said that while investors may be concerned about the Federal Reserve raising the fed funds rate, the long-term outlook for stocks may be fairly positive.

Martin Adams, who was generally thought of as bearish just a few years ago, expects the Fed will up rates by 50 basis points. She concedes that could initially take its toll on the market but only in the short run.

"It does usually create a good, sizable correction somewhere between 8 and 12 percent in the equity market during that year right around the time of the Fed hike," she said. "But when you look at historical performance of the equity markets surrounding a Fed hike, once that first hike goes through, a resumed bull market is the base-case scenario."

But one thing that makes this time different—and perhaps more positive for stocks—is that the Fed is now more communicative with the markets than before. Unlike 1994, any rate hike to come won't be a surprise, explained Martin Adams.

"We've been preparing for this Fed hike for so long," she said. "Ultimately I think we'll have a big sigh of relief when we finally get there."

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters

Martin Adams anticipates the markets have to spend the first half of the year digesting possibly higher rates as well as lower oil prices and a higher dollar. In such an environment, she is leaning towards defensive stocks and those with stronger earnings growth.

"We're still in health care and technology. These are our core overweight positions," Martin Adams said.

But she anticipates currently weak sectors to find stronger earnings growth in the second half of the year.

"Start to look for a bigger, broader cyclical rebound, which will benefit some of these sectors that are relatively depressed right now," said Martin Adams. "Our favorites are areas like materials and industrials. We are already advising clients to start to dip into some of these cyclical sectors that have seen some pretty tremendous valuation compression and also seem to have fairly weak earnings streams in the short run that may see some pretty strong earnings growth as the year progresses into 2016."

—By CNBC's Lawrence Lewitinn.

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