Since taking the helm of one of the fund industry's marquee portfolios on April 1, Justin White has guided $3.4 billion T. Rowe Price New America Growth Fund to a 10.44% return, topping 70% of his large-cap growth rivals tracked by Morningstar Inc.
With the broad market not favoring all of the types of stocks the fund held, the S&P 500 gained 12.35%.
White is steering a fund with a proud legacy.
Its 9.11% average annual return over the past 10 years ranked in the top 7% of its peer group.
White is putting his mark on the fund.
Since taking the helm, he has boosted the fund's weighting in financials and trimmed its weightings in health care and industrials.
"Under (predecessor Daniel Martino) the fund had a tremendous track record," White said.
"It was higher octane than it is now." While willing to hold individual stocks that can be volatile, White is trying to keep the overall portfolio's volatility lower.
"And I don't try to make big macro bets ... .
I let stock picking carry the day.
I pay more attention to (controlling) downside risk, so I have a greater allocation for example to telecoms — not the AT&Ts or Verizon, but to tower businesses ... like American Tower . . . and core holdings like Comcast."
In broad strategic terms, the fund aims for stocks in the fastest growing sectors.
Now that means internet stocks like Amazon, which is taking share from brick-and-mortar retailers, he says.
Alphabet and Facebook are taking advertising dollars from nondigital media.
"Those are among my top holdings because their outsize growth will persist for some time," White said.
Information technology is the fund's largest sector, with a 35% weighting as of Dec. 31.
As for stocks that might benefit from Trump policies, White says he is hedging his bets.
"It's hard to make big bets on the economy reaccelerating," he said. He does expect financials to benefit.
"The sector has been in regulators' unrelenting crosshairs for the past 10 years," he said.
"And I'm pretty comfortable betting on a regulations rollback and tax reductions."
But White thinks new infrastructure spending is already largely or all priced into many materials and industrials stocks. For that reason, he has kept Martin Marietta Materials a small holding.
And White isn't wearing rose-colored glasses when he looks at internet names either.
Netflix, for example, "is on the right side of (technological) change and can get bigger and more profitable," he said.
But he has trimmed his stake because "earnings are no longer sufficiently attractive in the near term for a stock (trading) around 130."