Progress 2015: Broker says 2015 looking ‘bullish’

The stock market is readying for its sixth bull market year, a local stockbroker predicts.

Brett Hrbek, a broker with Edward Jones in Front Royal, said he expects the markets to wrap up 2015 in the black, especially in the energy, health care and technology sectors. Investors should also keep an eye on growth in the Eurozone as well, he said.

Hrbek said projections for the year indicate a 2.5 to 3 percent growth in the market with no indication of a “recession trigger.”

“We don’t expect us to slide into recession, typically those are triggers, like some unforeseen events like a war breaking out or OPEC doing something crazy,” Hrbek said.

Hrbek said because the economy has had a slow recovery from the recession, there is no anticipation for a major bear market retraction.

“We believe it’s going to be positive by the end of the year, even with these robust runs we’ve had in the past six years, we haven’t seen those 10 percent retractions we usually see once a year every five years,” Hrbek said.

Hrbek added, “Our recovery has been slower than average recoveries have been, so our typical market numbers, of a bear market every three to four years, have been thrown out the window.”

With oil prices still below average, energy companies are a “buying opportunity,” Hrbek said.

“You might want to consider it on sale,” Hrbek said. “Some of the big conglomerates as well as people transporting energy through pipelines are not as affected by oil prices, but their stock values have gone down because of that sector.”

Within the technology sector, Hrbek said there are “a lot of opportunities going on line” in most areas of the industry.

“We got really exciting things going on like 3-D printers and the Google driverless car,” Hrbek said. “But a lot of it comes from information and data, because that’s something that’s continually being created and it has to go from one place to the other … we create more information every day, regardless of the economy.”

Because of the aging Baby Boomers population, the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are good bets for investment this year, Hrbek said.

“It’s kind of a pig in a python theory,” Hrbek said. “If you follow the Baby Boomers’ trends, you’ll probably do very well. Back in the 50s, the folks making the hula hoops were doing very well, but now they’re becoming senior citizens — investing in what senior citizens need and want is smart.”

Despite the slower economic recovery in the Eurozone, Hrbek said he recommends investors keep “a third of their stocks overseas” with concentration in Europe.

“Overseas is where the biggest opportunities are,” Hrbek said. “They haven’t seen the expansion and growth in Europe as we’ve seen in the United States and as the dollar strengthens against the Euro, there’s great opportunities over there in investing.”

Hrbek said while he would not speak to sectors investors should avoid, he did think small- and medium-sized companies are a little “overvalued.” He said investing in the stock market is about one’s “personal risk tolerance” and what he or she expects to do with their investment.

“I tell people if they’re looking to invest in the stock market to make a quick profit, they might as well take all their money and take it up to Atlantic City,” Hrbek said. “It’s about the same odds.”

Hrbek said at Edward Jones, the firm recommends investors keep a diversified portfolio.

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or

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