6 common investment strategies of fund managers

Technical analysis involves choosing assets based on prior trading patterns. You're looking at the trends of an investment's price.

Most managers emphasize fundamental analysis, because they want to understand what will drive growth. Investors expect the stock to rise if a company is growing profits, for example.

But fundamentals don't always carry the day. "You can have a period of time where the market moves on technicals," Holtzman says.

Heyman sees power in technical analysis, because he believes an asset's price at any single moment reflects all the information available about it.

The best managers use both fundamentals and technicals, he says. "If a stock has good fundamentals, it should be stable to rising. If it's not rising, the market is telling you you're wrong or you should be focusing on something else."

Contrarian investing

Contrarian managers choose assets that are out of favor. They determine the market's consensus about a company or sector and then bet against it.

The contrarian style is generally aligned with a value-investing strategy, which means buying assets that are undervalued by some statistical measure, says Wharton's Geczy.

"In the long run, value has beaten growth in assets around the world, though during certain periods that's not true," he says. "The contrarian style generally rewards investors, but you have to choose the right assets at the right time."

The risk, of course, is that the consensus is right, which results in wrong bets and losses for a contrarian manager.

Dividend investing

As the name suggests, dividend funds buy stocks with a strong record of earnings and dividends. Because of the stock market volatility of recent years, many investors like the idea of a fund that offers them a regular payout.

"Even if the price goes down, at least you're getting some income," says Russ Kinnel, director of mutual fund research at Morningstar. "It's a nice way to supplement income if you're retired."

However, the recent popularity of dividend stocks causes some market pundits to wonder if they’re currently overvalued. Also, beware of funds with extremely high yields. That could be a sign that companies are taking outsized risk and are headed for declines.

Most experts advise diversifying among investment styles. "In the end, a balanced way of looking at things tends to create fewer errors," Heyman says.


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