Best Stocks Switch Places With the Worst
The pillars of this year’s stock rally crumbled in the past week, even as the overall market had only a mild decline thanks to support from what had been among the most-hated companies.
Beneath the small fall of 1.5 % was a near-perfect reversal, with the pedigree performers turning into market mongrels and many of the year’s worst stocks back in favor.
The leading examples are dramatic: General Electric was the best stock in the S&P 500 to own over the past week – and the 496th performer for the year up to that point. Advanced Micro Devices, Abiomed and Netflix were by far the shares to hold this year until last week, and since then all have lost money, ranking 393rd, 481st and 443rd in the index.
The reversal was marketwide. Grouped into deciles of roughly 50 stocks (there are 505 stocks in the inaptly named index) ordered by their performance over the past week it is clear that the best performers were previously the worst, and the worst performers were previously among the best.
The pattern isn’t so clear when sorted the other way round. The best performers for the year so far did become the worst: The top 50 stocks on average made 51 % up to Wednesday last week and lost 3.7 % since then. But plenty of stocks that had a terrible time this year carried on being awful in the past week, too. The bottom 50 stocks on average fell 27 % for the year to last Wednesday, before losing another 2.4 % since, to make them the second-worst decile.
I’m hopeful that the reversal will see a resurgence of cheap value stocks previously abandoned by investors, mitigating losses among the fashionable FANGs and other technology disrupters. But for now value stocks are also down, just by less than the highflying growth stocks.
A trader watches his screens on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, on October 10, 2018.