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Top Large Cap Stocks That Mutual Fund Portfolio Managers Are Selling Now

IBM logoAs the market grinds slowly ever higher, leadership in stocks is taking a turn. Sectors like technology and energy are strong outperformers this year versus last year. In an effort to keep up with the overall index numbers, which are typically a portfolio manager’s benchmark, stocks that are losing momentum are discarded and new companies are added to replace them.

A new research report from the analysts at Credit Suisse highlights the stocks in which large cap mutual fund ownership is declining the most. This is not necessarily an indictment of the stocks themselves, as many are still rated Outperform at Credit Suisse. It just shows what managers are selling the most.

We have screened the Credit Suisse list for stocks that were rated Underperform and Neutral.

Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) is a contrarian Underperform call that Credit Suisse is not alone on. Software-defined networking (SDN) is the thorn in Cisco’s side. The onset of extensive use will compress profit dollars available to networking and could lead to the continuation of secular gross margin declines. The Credit Suisse team sees continuous building evidence of SDN deployments at marquee enterprise, Web scale and service provider customers. These customers have been the lifeblood of Cisco’s business for years.

Investors receive a very solid 3.1% dividend from the company. The Credit Suisse price target for the stock is $20. The Thomson/First Call estimate is $25.87, and Cisco closed Monday at $25.92 a share.

ALSO READ: 6 Analyst Stocks Under $10 With Strong Upside Potential

International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) is out of favor, and also rated Underperform. IBM’s price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio relative to the S&P 500 Index has contracted by 33% since the end of 2006, and the stock is trading at just over 10 times many Wall Street 2014 earnings-per-share (EPS) projections, or a 35% discount to the S&P 500 Index. While the company has struggled with business in China, many trading models indicate that sales bottomed last year and the path higher could be much easier. Credit Suisse and mutual fund managers do not like the name.

Investors are paid a 2.4% dividend. The Credit Suisse target price is set at $160, and the consensus is at $194.79, which is less than Monday’s closing price of $195.78.

Capital One Financial Corp. (NYSE: COF) is a popular stock with many of the Wall Street firms we cover, but it is being sold by top mutual funds. This really could be more of a straight valuation call in the financial sector. The stock has had a stellar run this year, and portfolio managers looking to stay with financials may just be rotating to cheaper stocks.

Investors are paid a 1.4% dividend. Credit Suisse has a rating of Neutral and a $90 price target. The consensus target is set at $92.50. Shares closed Monday’s trading at $81.53.

eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) is still down 10% so far this year. The company is continuing improvements in the user experience. eBay’s marketplaces keep attracting new users, evidenced by double-digit growth in active users and items sold. After posting better-than-expected earnings, the company again started to hear the activist investors’ calls for the spin-off of its PayPal unit.

Credit Suisse rates the stock Neutral with a $62 price target. The consensus target is lower at $59.50. Shares closed Monday at $52.93.

NetApp Inc. (NASDAQ: NTAP) is a top tech stock that has been blistered, and at one point this year was down 30% from January highs. The company is a provider of storage systems and data management solutions that form the foundation for efficient and flexible IT infrastructures. The company is one of the smaller players in the electronic storage industry, which could hurt it in competition with industry giants.

Investors are paid a 1.8% dividend. Credit Suisse has a Neutral rating and a $40 price target. The consensus price objective for the stock is $38.82, which is near the Monday close of $38.55.

ALSO READ: 10 Brands That Will Disappear in 2015

Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) makes the list as top consumer discretionary name that has moved sideways to down all year long. It also is being removed from mutual fund portfolios. In the near-term, the company has potential upside from a turnaround in its China business, improvements in gross margins and continued innovation-driven market share gains in both basketball and running footwear.

Investors are paid a 1.3% dividend. Credit Suisse has a rating of Neutral and a $80 price target. The consensus price target for the stock is $86.08. Nike closed Monday at $78.40 a share.

Clearly some of these top stocks are leaders in their respective sectors and have large brand awareness. Portfolio managers that are charged with beating their benchmark and producing alpha don’t care. They have to put investors’ money where they think the most upside lies going forward.

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