Look for this group of stocks to surge when risk aversion fades, says fund manager, who offers five stock ideas


imageChina has been talking up its markets, and that’s lifting all boats this morning, with Wall Street off to a strong start ahead of what’s expected to be the first Fed rate hike in more than three years.

Also helping are some positive rumblings around Ukraine-Russia negotiations as a brutal war continues.Apart from the devastating humanitarian disaster, the crisis has sparked surging commodity prices and inflationary worries.

Those worries have fed to losses in particular for the tech heavy Nasdaq Composite COMP, -0.56% and smaller companies RUT, +3.14% .This chart from fund house Artemis shows how valuation multiples of small companies have seen harder hits than large-caps over the last six months.

Artemis/Refinitiv Our call of the day from Artemis’ head of U.S.equity strategies, Cormac Weldon, is optimistic on this asset class.“Once risk aversion abates, we would expect small-caps to outperform: fundamentals and growth will eventually prevail over sentiment,” he said in a note to clients .

For starters, investors in the U.S.

have a huge selection of innovative companies to choose from, with active managers often better placed to generate alpha as many of those stocks go overlooked by Wall Street.

He expects “inflationary panic will start to ease,” at some point, noting that used-car prices are starting to tame and investors should expect a disinflationary effect kicking in from the massive technology investment by U.S.companies.

Weldon explains that the market is “extremely polarized” right now, with investors rotating between extremes of value and growth amid a fast-moving inflation and interest-rate debate.He expects stock specifics will become important again, and his cyclical-growth mixed portfolio should do well.

But Artemis is wary of fast-growing companies with big promises, instead focusing on growth and quality.

Bio-Techne TECH, -0.72% and Syneos Health SYNH, -0.20% , and cyclical/financial names like Signature Bank SBNY, -1.80% fit that bill, he said.

Maravai Lifesciences MRVI, -0.76% is also on his list, as the biopharma group recently spurned a German bid.“t is well-positioned to take advantage of the massive influx of interest and investment flowing into the mRNA area as well as growth in the cell and gene therapy space more broadly,” he said.

And he’s been adding to his Planet Fitness PLNT, +0.14% position as COVID disruptions fade and the gym chain has been lagging other reopening stocks.Another plus is that the company is leaner and fitter after it removed excess capacity during the pandemic.

Finally, he likes Pool Corporation POOL, -0.47% , which is a niche provider of pool supplies, giving it an enviable degree of pricing power.“Moreover, during the crisis people used their savings – and filled their time – by installing swimming pools,” said Weldon.

The buzz After some bruising sessions, the Hang Seng HSI, +7.04% rebounded 9% as China vowed to keep its stock markets stable and boost economic growth.

Beijing has also promised to work with U.S.regulators over delisting concerns, feeding into hefty gains for Alibaba BABA, -6.05% , JD.com JD, -3.00% and other U.S.-listed Chinese stocks.

Ahead of the Fed outcome and news conference with Chair Jerome Powell, data showed retail sales rising 0.3%, falling short of expectations for a 0.4% gain in February.Import prices cooled slightly, gaining 1.4% in that month from 1.9% previously.

Still to come are a home builders’ index and revised business inventories.

As the bombardment of Kyiv and other cities continues, there are fresh hopes that negotiations may be getting somewhere , after the Kremlin proposed a “Swedish-style” neutral Ukraine.Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy invoked Pearl Harbor and Sept.11 attacks as he asked U.S.Congress to do more to help save his country.That’s after meeting with Polish, Czech Republic and Slovenian heads on Tuesday.

Disney DIS, -0.47% employees are calling for walkouts over the next week to protest the company’s response to a Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.

Biogen stock BIIB, -0.61% is getting a lift after sharing more positive long-term data on its Alzheimer’s drug.

Starbucks SBUX, -0.38% is climbing after the coffee maker said CEO Kevin Johnson will step down, with ex-head Howard Schulz stepping in for now.

The markets Stocks DJIA, -0.24% SPX, -0.33% are higher, led by tech COMP, -0.56% , with oil prices CL00, +6.93% BRN00, +7.11% wobbling, a day after entering a bear market .Asia stocks bounced, and European equities SXXP, -0.30% are also higher.Gold GC00, +1.73% and the dollar DXY, -0.32% continue to pull back.

The chart “As we start the hiking cycle, it’s worth highlighting that hiking cycles in the fiat money era (1971-), when debt has been constantly increasing, have generally eventually led to a financial crisis somewhere around the world,” notes Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid in our chart of the day.

Uncredited “With U.S.equities still at some of their highest valuations in history, with global housing having boomed during the pandemic, and with global debt at record highs, the Fed (and other central banks) shaking the tree is sure to bring something we can add to the events shown in the graph,” he said, though noting that monetary policy usually acts with a lag.

The tickers These were the most-searched tickers on MarketWatch as of 6 a.m.

Eastern Time.

Ticker Security name Tesla GME, -1.81% GameStop AMC, AMC Entertainment NIO, -3.97% NIO BABA, -6.05% Alibaba MULN, +24.01% Mullen Automotive HYMC, +2.19% Hycroft Mining AAPL, -0.98% Apple NVDA, -1.50% Nvidia FB, -0.36% Meta Platforms Random reads Why bitcoin miners are flocking to Kentucky’s Appalachian mountains

Got $2 million to spare? A crazy-rare gold coin marking the 44BC slaying of Julius Caesar is up for auction .

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