Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Outperforming the Market

With just one more day of trading left, stocks are in danger of closing lower for January. As I write this, the Dow is up only 0.4% so far this month. Yet, as my staff and I put together the February issue of the Forbes Growth Investor, we are encouraged by the strong performance we are seeing from our picks. Our model portfolio is currently up 1.6%. Our sub-portfolios are doing even better. The Aggressive Growth portfolio is up 5.3%, benefiting from the 34% surge in MEMC Electronic Materials (WFR). This company recently reported outstanding top-line and bottom-line results and enjoyed several upgrades from Wall Street analysts. We will put out a full report in the February issue, which will be released to subscribers on Feb. 2.

Our Special Situation Survey investment newsletter is also doing great. This model portfolio is up 2.5% year-to-date, also well ahead of all the benchmarks. Ironically, one of our picks, Pilgrim's Pride (PPC) is up more than 4% today alone despite missing earnings estimates and warning of higher expenses in future periods. While I remain cautious about the overall market, I continue to believe it is possible to outperform through superior analysis.

Speaking of the overall market, we will learn more tomorrow when the fourth-quarter advance GDP estimate is released. That comes out before the market opens, so we could see quite a bit of volatility. The consensus estimate is 3.0%. My expectation is something closer to 2.5%. Tomorrow is also the day the Fed wraps up a two-day meeting and announces its decision on interest rates. I'm still surprised by those who believe the Fed will cut rates. If the Fed makes any move at all right now, it is likely to be a rate hike, not a cut. However, I would be very surprised if the Fed does anything other than keeping rates steady.