Value vs. Growth? You Don’t Want to Get Caught in this Market

I‘ve been speculating a lot in this column about the best sectors of the equity market for risk-capital investors. I still think that the values being offered in a number of U.S.-listed Chinese shares offer some of the best trades at this time for those who can stomach this kind of stocks. I’m still bullish on gold and silver, but this is a sector that’s in need of a correction.

Currently, I’m warming up to a few solar energy stocks that I think are attractive based on price and business prospects. This is a sector that’s been hit hard by investor apathy. Growth numbers for the industry weren’t quite up to Street expectations and a lot of investors jumped ship. But several companies within this sector are currently experiencing solid growth and their stock prices haven’t kept up, largely because there really isn’t much appetite from investors at the speculative end of the stock market. There’s been no need to speculate in higher-risk shares, because owning companies like E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (NYSE/DD) and Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE/CAT) has been so profitable.

The current bear market rally may continue for a while, but a correction is definitely in the cards in the not-too-distant future. It may not happen until we get into 2011. Predicting this market is total guesswork.

Regardless, as a new buyer of equities, I’d still be focused on new positions that offer real value. You don’t want to get caught paying too much for a stock in a market proven to change directions on a whim. Of course, the stock market’s always been like this, but I can’t recall a time when investor sentiment has been so volatile. The change in investor attitude toward stocks between the months of August and September was truly amazing.

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The broader market could very well keep ticking higher going forward, but not all stocks are participating and trading volume has been fairly weak. This isn’t a healthy market by any stretch. A correction is coming, but it needs a catalyst to get underway. Something like a currency event or a sovereign debt problem is a growing risk.