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Stock Picker’s Market

CAMS Weekly View from the Corner – Week ending 5/15/2020

May 18, 2020

In recent editions we have intermittently offered the developing theme of a stock picker’s market.  Historically, this label is bandied about when describing a general stock market that struggles for trend and yet within the market, various opportunities do quite well via isolated stock picking.

Such a backdrop is an “Indexer’s” nightmare.  Indexer?

In the previous decade in particular, simply buying a large market based index investment such as a broad index like the S&P 500 became a trend in itself.  Reduced to complete simplicity, the view was why try to find positive investments when you can simply own a large market vehicle and let the market do the work for you so-to-speak.

This trend was further entrenched with the market by-and-large doing well over periods of time.  The problem occurs when the market does not do well – as in a lack of consistent upward trend – and becomes more comatose.

Underneath this lack of trend, historically, is a market backdrop whereby the market is expensive when looked at through various valuation measures coupled with an economic backdrop that offers questionable trends in terms of its strength.  Current day – place a check mark on both fronts.

When in a stock picker’s environment, an index investor will hear reports of excellent performance from certain individual companies or even a bit more broadly that certain sub-industries within the stock market are doing well and then gets confused as to why their indexing approach is not working as previously experienced.

The reason is the stock market became more concentrated in what is actually performing.

Click for Larger View:

The above is a one year chart of the Equal Weighted S&P 500 Index.

The equal weight construction of this index makes is so the price performance of all 500 companies carries the same impact on the results of the index.

As we can see this index has come off the bottom of its notable cliff-dive.  That is the positive.  The negatives however are adding up.  Generally, it has struggled for any real strength and is meandering around in the last several weeks.

More specifically, the red horizontal line represents its 200 day price average which is often viewed as a line between a healthy (north of the red line) and unhealthy (south of the red line) for an investment vehicle. Unlike some other, less diversified stock market vehicles, this broad based stock market index has been unable to attempt to challenge its 200 day price average.

In addition, via the blue down trending line, we can see in the previous couple of weeks it is now putting in a “lower high” which defines downtrend.

Admittedly, this downtrend represents only a couple weeks in duration so it is early to call significance to this but it does speak to yet another negative in how it has been unable to trade constructively.  In addition, if the horizontal blue line is taken out to the downside this will be additional negative price behavior for the broad stock market.

Overall the broad stock market remains quite challenged while more specific stocks or even more concentrated, less diversified stock market vehicles have performed better.

This speaks to the developing stock picker’s market backdrop and appears to be an early trend that is taking hold.

If this developing trend sticks then a more concentrated investment portfolio will be rewarded over the traditional, well diversified portfolio experience.

I wish you well…

Ken Reinhart

Director, Market Research & Portfolio Analysis

Portfolio Manager, CAMS Spectrum Portfolio


H&UP’s is a quick summation of a rating system for SPX9 (abbreviation encompassing 9 Sectors of the S&P 500 with 107 sub-groups within those 9 sectors) that quickly references the percentage that is deemed healthy and higher (H&UP).  This comes from the proprietary “V-NN” ranking system that is composed of 4 ratings which are “V-H-N-or NN”.  A “V” or an “H” is a positive or constructive rank for said sector or sub-group within the sectors.

This commentary is presented only to provide perspectives on investment strategies and opportunities. The material contains opinions of the author, which are subject to markets change without notice. Statements concerning financial market trends are based on current market conditions which fluctuate. References to specific securities and issuers are for descriptive purposes only and are not intended to be, and should not be interpreted as, recommendations to purchase or sell such securities. There is no guarantee that any investment strategy will work under all market conditions. Each investor should evaluate their ability to invest for the long-term, especially during periods of downturn in the market. PERFORMANCE IS NOT GUARANTEED AND LOSSES CAN OCCUR WITH ANY INVESTMENT STRATEGY.

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