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It’s time to prepare your portfolio for the Fed’s next move — here’s how

The potential for a December rate hike means that investors may soon have to rotate out of traditional, high-yielding defensive stocks, according to one technician.

Looking at a chart of the utilities stock-tracking ETF (XLU), Piper Jaffray technical analyst Craig Johnson says that XLU has tumbled back down to what he sees as a support level at $46.50, which bodes ill for the sector's high-yielding stocks.

"This is an index that has already violated the uptrend support line that has been intact for the last 12 or 18 months, and you're not starting to put in a series of lower highs and lower lows," Johnson said Wednesday on CNBC's "Power Lunch."


The Federal Reserve kept its federal funds rate target unchanged Wednesday, but noted in its statement that "the case for an increase in the federal funds rate continued to strengthen."

And according to Johnson, utilities, which were down more than 1 percent Wednesday, won't be the only sector in trouble.

Investors' high-yield hunt in light of lower Treasury yields led them to pour into other defensive sectors like consumer staples and even health care. But those same sectors have fallen since the summer, and a possible upcoming rate hike means that it could be time to look closely at sectors that would benefit from an interest rate rise.

"The reflation trade is starting, and there's going to be a lot of money that's going to need to come out of these areas such as health care and the utility stocks," said Johnson. "It's going to rotate into other areas such as the financials."

While it was previously the worst-performing S&P sector year to date, the financials sector could rally in light of a Fed rate hike. Higher interest rates and inflation expectations mean that borrowing in the short term and lending in the long term becomes a more profitable maneuver, helping bank stocks.

Chad Morganlander, portfolio manager at Stifel Nicolaus, also believes that current high-yielding sectors are due for a hit, predicting that the Fed could raise interest rates twice in the next 18 months. But instead of looking at sectors as a whole, he encourages investors to look at specific companies' growth potential to make their decision.

"What we would be buying is companies that are dividend growers, where top-line revenue growth is robust, and where predictability of operating margins and gross margins are substantial," Morganlander said Wednesday on "Power Lunch."

Two names that Morganlander suggests are Pfizer and Church & Dwight.

While Pfizer has plunged about 17.5 percent since hitting its year-to-date high in August, the biotech company has a "long-term forecasted growth rate on the top line of 3 to 5 percent," according to Morganlander, who predicts that Pfizer could actually rise 30 percent to hit $40. Household product manufacturer Church & Dwight is a "consistent grower" that is currently up about 11 percent year to date.

CME's FedWatch Tool currently has the chances of a December Fed rate hike at 71.5 percent.

A fund managed by Morganlander owns shares of Pfizer (PFE).


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Brian Sullivan

Brian Sullivan is co-anchor of CNBC's "Power Lunch" (M-F,1PM-3PM ET), one of the network's longest running programs, as well as the host of the daily investing program "Trading Nation." He is also a frequent guest on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and other NBC properties.

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