The growing debate on Wall Street is whether the shift into industrial stocks and out of consumer stocks now is secular rather than cyclical-meaning, a trend that will deepen over the next few years, surprising most investors with its intensity. The consumer stocks, especially the drug stocks, have been the market's stars since 1984. Some analysts say that's far too long for one group to lead Wall Street. Last year's frenzy for health care issues-illustrated by the scores of initial stock offerings by emerging (and highly speculative) medical-product companies-had all the trappings of a final blowout, the stocks' critics say. The decline won't end with the first quarter, they argue.
Ted Gomoll, who manages the $700-million G.T. Global Health Care mutual fund in San Francisco, naturally disagrees. He's not surprised that some investors took profits in medical stocks in the first quarter. He wouldn't be surprised if the stocks slumped for a few more months.
Money managers such as [Robert Rodriguez], for example, are eagerly ferreting out industrial companies that should benefit from even a small rise in demand for their products, as the economy climbs slowly out of recession. Two of his recent purchases: Thor Industries, a maker of motor homes, and Oregon Steel, a profitable mini-mill operator.