The stock market has ticked up nicely on a year-to-date basis, but being the contrarian that I am -- and given all the volatility we've experienced in recent months -- I think savvy investors ought to at least contemplate whether we're heading for a market correction. That's particularly true when a talented money manager has assessed the situation and identified what he calls a "global bubble."

Dialing down risk
Last year, Jeremy Grantham -- the "G" of the world-class GMO money management outfit -- chimed in on what he called "the Wile E. Coyote" economy. In his most recent quarterly report, Grantham observes that "[f]rom Indian antiquities to modern Chinese art; from land in Panama to Mayfair; from forestry, infrastructure, and the junkiest bonds to mundane blue chips; it's bubble time!"

Now, normally, as I do my homework for the Fool's Champion Funds newsletter service, I put little stock in market prognosticators. Grantham, however, is one of a handful of exceptions. And while I don't share his totalizing view that, eventually, "The bursting of the bubble will be across all countries and all assets, with the probable exception of high-grade bonds," I do think savvy investors would be smart to at least tilt in the direction of more attractively valued large-cap stocks.

ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) and Dow Chemical, for example, currently trade with price-to-earnings (P/E) ratios that clock in below those of their typical industry rivals -- despite having bested those peer groups for the 10 years that ended with April.

Meanwhile, the more growth-oriented likes of Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ:SUNW) and Broadcom (NASDAQ:BRCM) sport stock prices that are well off their 52-week highs.

Contrarian's corner
Being cautious, of course, is in the eye of the shareholder. Avoiding stocks -- or simply reducing your exposure to them -- is one way of getting that job done, but so is favoring less volatile investments. One option: mutual funds that favor the kinds of stocks that trendy types -- you know, the ones who inflated the market bubble during the late 1990s, only to watch it burst in early 2000 -- typically avoid.

That means tilting toward prospects with the best relative valuations -- stocks that have less room to fall when the market heads south, and greater upside potential when Mr. Market turns cautious. Indeed, a manager at one of our Champion Funds recommendations made out like a proverbial bandit in the post-bubble era, racking up a gain of more than 75% between March 2000 and December 2002, while the S&P shed some 33% of its value over that stretch of time.

Impressive, yes? And what's more, while this fund plays it close to the vest with its picks -- Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) all recently appeared in the portfolio, for example -- the managers here certainly have the courage of their convictions: At the end of March, the fund's top 10 holdings soaked up nearly 45% of assets.

The Foolish bottom line
Make no mistake: I think the key to being a successful long-term investor is designing a well-diversified asset-allocation game plan that suits your timeline and tolerance for risk, and sticking to it over the course of many years. That said, it's possible to be intelligently opportunistic along the way -- and a top-notch fund that specializes in out-of-favor stocks is a great way to do just that.

With that in mind, if you'd like to sneak a peek at this contrarian pick -- not to mention all the others we've recommended since Champion Funds first opened for business -- you're in luck: A free guest pass is just a mouse-click away. Your pass provides access to our back-issue archives, model portfolios, and complete list of recommended funds.

This article was originally published on May 16, 2006. It has been updated.

Shannon Zimmerman runs point on the Fool's Champion Funds newsletter service. At the time of publication, he didn't own any of the securities mentioned above. Dow Chemical is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and Pfizer are Inside Value picks. The Fool has a strict disclosure policy.