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Tech picked for 2001

Fund managers are picking that technology will be one of the sectors to do well this year, despite the fall out from the tech-wreck of 2000.

Thursday, January 18th 2001, 10:38PM

by Philip Macalister

Believe it or not technology stocks are being picked by a number of managers as being a good bet this year.

A year ago investors couldn't get enough of anything that had an e in front of its name, and many managers launched tech funds to take advantage of this investor demand.

"A year ago, the telecom universe was an investor's oyster, a dart thrower's dream," Credit Suisse's Vincent McBride says of one part of the tech sector.

Come April and the so-called "tech wreck" any e-company was expelled from investment portfolios.

It's easy to see why when you consider the Nasdaq index fell 44% and key tech funds promoted in New Zealand, such as the AMP Henderson Technology fund, fell 44% in the four months ending December 31.

Ever since April there has been a continuous string of stories about e-commerce companies struggling, or failing outright.

In New Zealand for example E Force and E-Loan have struggled, and Quicken came and went as quick as its name suggest. In the US companies like eToys have seen its share price fall 99%.

Despite the endless stories tech is still favoured by investment professionals.

"It's been quite positive to get that clean out in technology stocks," Guardian Trust Funds Management managing director Anthony Quirk says.

He is looking for a "significant bounce" in the tech sector this year.

Last year's fall out was a cyclical event, as opposed to a fundamental one.

Likewise, BT Funds Management chief executive Craig Stobo is bullish on tech stocks, particularly those in the business-to-business area.

He says it's hard to ignore the tech sector considering the relentless onward march of information technology systems and their importance to the global economy.

Henderson Global Technology fund manager Nitin Mehta blames the funds fall on a co-ordinated slowdown in global economic activity.

"Such a plunge is obviously painful for investors but fortunately it's rare."

Mehta is positive about the longer term view of technology.

"While the debate over growth rates for technology shares will continue, we believe that recent heightened concerns are likely to dissipate. We remain confident for the longer term.

"On past occasions, the period which follows a major setback has been rewarding; in other words, strong recoveries usually follow large falls."

Time will tell if Mehta's right.

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