Stock Market Insights: The Lopsided S&P500 – Magnificent 7 vs. the Rest

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Photo courtesy Dr. Richard Baker

I asked my high school baseball coach what we needed to do to win, and he said, “We need more Eddies!” Our baseball team consisted of Eddie, who was amazing, two above-average guys, and the rest of us, who wouldn’t make the team at many other schools. Coach was right; our baseball skills were lopsided, Eddie and then the rest of us. That is a perfect picture of the lopsided S&P500 these days.

This year’s most popular investment discussion so far has been about the S&P 500’s Magnificent 7, which consists of Apple, Microsoft, Google, Tesla, Nvidia, Amazon, and Meta. Often, investors speak of the S&P 500 as “the market.” If the index is that important, what about the other 493 stocks?

These Magnificent 7 stocks gained 70% in 2023, while the remaining 493 stocks in the index were only up 6%. These are pretty lopsided returns for an index that’s supposed to represent such a broad part of the stock market. Should we be concerned?

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Market strategists often discuss the benefits of a balanced market where the majority of the market concentration isn’t focused on a handful of companies. The reason is that when so few stocks (like these seven were last year) are responsible for up to two-thirds of the S&P 500’s performance, it could leave the market susceptible to a strong pullback if the few “big guys” stumble.

The S&P 500 going up is usually good news, but when just a few horses are leading, it could be masking some weakness with the rest of the index; but I don’t think it is this time. This isn’t the first time the Standard and Poor’s index has been lopsided. In the 1980s, IBM, Exxon, and General Electric dominated and the index made it through just fine, and it will again this year.

On the positive side, many believe the remaining 493 could start to catch up this year, showing another gear for the market. For one, they are of better value. Looking at the price-to-earnings ratios (the lower the P/E ratio is, the better the value), the 493 as a whole has a P/E ratio of just 19, whereas the Magnificent 7 has a P/E of about 50. Secondly, since the 493 are smaller in size, they will benefit more from the falling dollar and lower interest rates and have more room to run than the big 7.

While I anticipate the Magnificent 7 will continue its strong performance this year, I also see potential opportunities in sectors that faced challenges last year, such as industrials, materials, and transportation. These sectors, which struggled in the past, could present intriguing prospects for investors and market strategists.

It wasn’t that long ago that a person could just invest in an S&P 500 index fund and have good diversification. These days, with the index’s lopsidedness, investors need to add specific small-caps and emerging market positions to broaden their exposure to the whole market.

Eddie went on to get drafted by the Chicago Cubs, and the rest of us, who never played baseball again, became professionals at other things. I’m hoping the 493 other companies hit their stride this year and start playing at the Magnificent 7 level.

Have a blessed week!

www.FerventWM.com

Dr. Richard Baker, AIF®, is the founder and executive wealth advisor at Fervent Wealth Management.

Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC.

Opinions voiced above are for general information only & not intended as specific advice or recommendations for any person. All performance cited is historical & is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested directly.

The economic forecast outlined in this material may not develop as predicted & there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.

Fervent Wealth Management is a financial management and services entity in Springfield, Missouri.

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