Nobody saw it coming.
To pick a winning stock at the start of March, you had to find a company that was hated by analysts, adored by short sellers, avoided by institutional buyers and averse to doing just about anything but pay dividends. Shares with those characteristics have generated returns of as much as 5.8 percent even as the Standard & Poor’s 500 Indexstood still, data compiled by Bespoke Investment Group LLC and Bloomberg show.
The unlikelihood of arriving at such a blueprint after a five-year bull market is taking a toll on asset managers, with more than 80 percent of growth and value funds trailing benchmarks in 2014. For investors coming back to the market just as losses in Internet shares approach 20 percent, it’s a lesson on how little past performance says about the future.
“When you are fighting a market trend, you have to choose whether you have to ride it, or you get out of the way,” Jerry Braakman, chief investment officer of First American Trust in Santa Ana, California, said by phone on May 8. His firm, which manages $1.1 billion, trailed the S&P 500 in the first quarter and has cut holdings in financial and consumer-discretionary shares while adding to stakes in energy and utilities. “It’s just been a difficult market.”
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