Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Facebook. These five stocks have helped spawn a number of acronyms as they try to capture the rise of mega-cap tech stocks that have led the market higher for much of the past decade. The average return for those five stocks so far this year has been a gain of more than 30%, while the broad S&P 500 Index is just marginally positive, at 0.4% through July 30.
While many other areas of the market have remained largely static, the total market value of these stocks has dramatically increased, making them an increasingly large piece of market cap-weighted indexes such as the S&P 500. As shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, the combined weight of the top five stocks in the S&P 500 has increased to its highest level ever, at nearly 22%. Only one of those five stocks (Microsoft) was a top five name in the index during the previous peak of March 2000.
But does this pose a risk to the index? From a diversification standpoint, one could certainly argue it does. For instance, if any shared risks should come up, from regulation, for example, it could do outsized damage to cap-weighted indexes. However, we believe that the recent gains have been justified by the fundamentals, and we continue to favor both large caps over small caps, and growth-style stocks over value stocks. According to analysis from Credit Suisse, over the past 12 months, the top five stocks in the index have grown revenues at 11.2% vs. just 0.8% for the rest of the S&P 500. Further, the remainder of the S&P 500 has subtracted roughly $17 from S&P 500 earnings per share (EPS), while the top five stocks have added more than $12.
Finally, while these stocks have been the face of the recent “stay-at-home trend” and may be more insulated from broader economic weakness, they are far from the only stocks making money this year. On July 30, the Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index hit a new all-time high and is now up more than 15% year-to-date.
“After a huge run, many of these top stocks may be due for a pause,” said LPL Chief Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “However, looking out over the next 6 to 12 months, we believe that investors will continue to place a premium on companies that are able to organically grow sales, especially in a low-growth environment.”
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