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Commentary

Alger’s Ankur Crawford Finds Growth in Change

"Digitization is creating opportunities throughout the sector, which makes this one of the most exciting times for growth investors."

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Editor's note: This article first appeared in the Q1 2021 issue of Morningstar magazine. Click here to subscribe.

Ankur Crawford is an executive vice president at Alger and portfolio manager of several strategies, including Alger Capital Appreciation (ALARX) and Alger Spectra (ASPIX), which have Morningstar Analyst Ratings of Bronze for most share classes. Before joining Alger as a research associate in 2004, Crawford earned a doctorate in materials science and engineering from Stanford University. She was awarded an Intel PhD Fellowship and worked as an engineer with Intel. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with Bachelor of Science degrees in mechanical engineering and in materials science and engineering.

1. What do you look for in a growth stock?
We look for companies experiencing change because change creates opportunities. The market often underestimates how change can drive strong earnings growth over multiple years. We seek dominant businesses, market share gainers, and great management teams.

2. Will today’s tech leaders maintain their leads?
They may take temporary breathers, but they are demand creators. They have reinvented their markets, and as a result of making substantial investments, they have strong competitive moats. Amazon.com (AMZN) is the first truly global retailer; Facebook (FB) is the first truly global advertising platform.

3. Where do you see emerging technology opportunities?
Digitization is creating opportunities throughout the sector, which makes this one of the most exciting times for growth investors. It touches almost all aspects of a business and is enabled by artificial intelligence, 5G, the “Internet of Things,” and other digital services. Semiconductor companies are enabling these trends.

4. Is the sector at risk for something like the dot-com crash?
Unlike the dot-com crash, many of today’s larger technology companies produce strong cash flow. Given where the 10-year Treasury yield is, we believe the appeal of companies with low-to mid-single-digit cash flow yields could limit an aggressive pullback.

5. Where else should growth investors look today?
The powerful trend of digitizing business models extends across the economy. In the consumer discretionary sector, for example, businesses that are harnessing the power of digital engagement with their customers are emerging as winners.

6. How does your engineering background inform your investment decisions?
I was trained to solve problems and look for patterns. By doing so, engineers don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. I became an engineer because I was fascinated with how things worked—from a car engine in my early years to atomic interactions in my later years. This same curiosity drives me to find the best businesses and understand what makes them the best.

7. What prompted your switch to asset management?
As a Ph.D. student, I felt I had become too narrow in my understanding of the world, so I pivoted to asset management. The market is ever-changing, and there is always something new to learn—this makes it both gratifying and humbling at the same time!

8. What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I am a mom to three, and they are my biggest enjoyment. It doesn’t leave me much time for too many activities, except running.

9. Do you have a favorite charity?
I am on the board of The Knowledge House, a Bronx-based charity that educates, empowers, and mentors students from underprivileged communities to help them build skills for successful careers in the gig economy. We are at the start of a technological revolution, and workers need a completely different skill set to thrive.

10. What are you reading?
Living the Wisdom of the Tao by Wayne Dyer, a modern interpretation of the ancient Chinese text. These are life lessons that are good to be reminded of.

Laura Lallos has a position in the following securities mentioned above: AMZN, FB. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.

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