Bob Doll Says Sell Multinationals, Buy U.S. Amid Trade Fears

(Bloomberg) -- Buy U.S. stocks with domestic exposure and sell multinationals to cope with the uncertainty from daily trade skirmishes, says Bob Doll, chief equity strategist at $175-billion Nuveen Asset Management.

“If there’s a trade war that’s global in nature, the U.S. will have one black eye and a lot of other countries will have two black eyes,” Doll said in a phone interview Thursday. “We’re way underweight multinationals versus our benchmark, therefore overweight companies that get a lot of their earnings here in the U.S.”

Doll said he’s sold stocks like Boeing Co., which tends to retreat every time there’s a negative trade headline, and is buying retailers like Walmart Inc. and Target Corp. After a bumpy start to the year, many U.S. retailers have been marching higher amid stronger-than-expected earnings, and their domestic exposure means they’ve also benefited from a strong U.S. economy, corporate tax cuts and a higher dollar.

“I read a report, it wasn’t quite this blunt but it implied that Amazon’s going to put every bricks and mortar retailer out of business and I said, ‘This has gone too far,’” Doll said. “The stocks were cheap so we started buying them and wish we had bought more.”

Nuveen also reduced its exposure to some of the more expensive technology stocks in January and put that money into the energy sector, buying refiners like Marathon Petroleum Corp. and Valero Energy Corp.

“We saw it as a great trade that’s still in process but don’t want to stay there forever,” Doll said.

Doll manages the Nuveen Large Cap Core Fund and is also sub-adviser for the actively managed Evolve Active US Core Equity ETF, traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The ETF has gained about 10 percent since it started trading in October compared to 6 percent for its benchmark, the Russell 1000 Index. Its top five holdings are Apple Inc., AT&T Inc., Visa Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. and UnitedHealth Group Inc.

Nuveen is part of the Teachers Insurance & Annuity Association of America (TIAA), which has $1 trillion of assets under management.

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