Manager Picks Large-Caps as '08 Winners


Keith Wirtz, president and chief investment officer of Fifth Third Asset Management expects at least a couple of large-cap winners to stay in the winning column in 2008.

Wirtz's large-cap fund is up 8.2 percent year to date and 13.5 percent over the last five years. He thinks Apple is a solid choice for 2008.

"It's smart to own a company whose culture is driven by Steve Jobs," he told CNBC. "It's a culture that's not conventional; it's a culture that strives for perfect execution."

He sees the iPhone as having been launched "pretty well," and notes that it's now being rolled out in Europe and will soon be moving into Asia. He also appreciates the refreshed iPod being on the market in time for holiday shopping.

Not surprisingly, Wirtz sees financials as out of favor, and bank stocks, in particular, under-owned.


But, as countless baseball fans have said, wait `til next year.

"At some point next year, we think that when most of the headline risk is out into the marketplace, there's going to be a huge buying opportunity in the bank stocks, and in the financial sector in general," he said.

"We like U.S. Bancorp because it's conservative," he said. "They have a conservative lending culture. If you have to play the finance space, we think it's one of the conservative ways to tiptoe into the marketplace."

Wirtz does not personally own either stock, but Fifth Third owns both for its client portfolios.