Five-Star Manager Betting on the US Consumer

When it comes to stocks, American Century Investments portfolio manager Richard Weiss likes to buy American, and he's leaning toward real estate investment trusts, or REITs.

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Construction Cranes Miami

"It's consumer-driven. The [Case-Shiller] numbers today notwithstanding, it's a harbinger of better things to come," the five-star fund manager, with $12 billion in assets under management, said of real estate to CNBC's Street Signs.

"It's a bet on the recovery over the longer term and a bet on America."

He said real-estate stocks will be driven by low interest rates on mortgages, favorable stock valuations that "continue to be, to this day, based on not unreasonable expectations of earnings and funds from operations," and an improving economic outlook, "at least domestically at the margin."

First-quarter reported earnings have been strong, he said, "much stronger than expected. We're seeing average growth rates across all sectors on the order of 5 percent, and the average surprise on the positive side by over 8 percent."

But the consumer represents two-thirds of the economy, and is "the major tide, the major force. We're going with that one," Weiss said.

While he gave no specific picks, he said if he had to buy a basket of stocks in a particular sector, he would buy consumer discretionary stocks, followed by financial stocks.

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