May 18, 2004 — With higher interest rates looming, investors may wonder where to turn. Fund Advisor looked at funds that outperformed in 1994, when interest rates also rose. The following table lists large-cap blend funds that beat their peers in 1994, as well as over the ten-year period through last month. These funds are also headed by managers that have been associated with their portfolios since at least 1994.
Large-cap blend funds were selected because large-cap stocks are likely to outperform going forward, according to Ken Shea, director of global equity research at Standard & Poor’s. Shea expects large-cap stocks to do better than small- and mid-cap stocks for the rest of this year due to their attractive valuations, resulting from underperformance in recent years. Healso notes large-cap stocks tend to do better in the second year of bull markets as investors become more discriminatory, and shift to higher quality stocks.
Despite the challenges of interest rate shifts, Standard & Poor’s investment policy committee forecasts that the S&P 500-stock index will rise to 1215 by yearend. Higher corporate profits will more than offset the effects of higher interest rates on stocks, according to Shea. He notes that Standard & Poor’s equity analysts collectively predict S&P 500 operating earnings are likely to be up 19% this year.
William Frels, co-manager of Mairs & Power Growth Fund (MPGFX) also thinks corporate profits will offset the rise in rates because “the outlook for profits is so strong.” Frels cautions rapid interest-rate gains could undo this forecast, but notes the Federal Reserve is projecting gradual increases.