Wall Street always has been a place where once the crowd of portfolio managers, chief investment officers and others start placing their bets, everybody seems to follow. Then, with the help of a supportive base of research analysts, the table for the top companies is pounded over and over again, for years and sometimes decades.
While times change, the proclivity of the market masters to repeat themselves has not. In the 1960s, the popular group of stocks that everybody loaded up on was the nifty 50. That group included such bygone names as Eastman Kodak, Xerox, Polaroid and Sears. By the late 1990s, the popular group of stocks that investors were chasing and pushing higher during what was then called the “tech bubble” included Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, Oracle and Lucent.
All of that was back in the good old days. Today, six companies, including one from the tech-bubble days, command an astounding 24% of the market capitalization of the S&P 500. They all have extraordinary product and services silos and organizations, and they have reshaped life as we know it now, just a little over 20 years into the new millennium.
The problem for the average investor is that, while these companies stand a very good chance of remaining relevant for decades to come and perhaps longer, just like Polaroid or Eastman Kodak, there is always the possibility that the technology either becomes antiquated or it is outright replaced by a new company’s product or services.
So what should investors do now? Reviewing portfolios (especially in retirement plans, whether you have an IRA or a 401(k) plan) to see what mutual funds you are holding and making sure they are not being duplicated, so that your investment posture isn’t skewed to the companies that dominate the market cap of the S&P 500.
The reason this is important is that index funds will have the same stocks as, say, a fund labeled large-cap growth. It is better to diversify via market cap, splitting assets between large-, mid- and small-cap companies. Then adding real estate investment trusts for real estate exposure, utilities for safety and income, energy master limited partnerships for income and exposure to the energy sector. Then, and only then, as rates start to move higher over the next few years, adding investment grade limited duration and maturity bond funds for safety and income.
Here are the six companies that comprise an astounding 24% of the market capitalization of the S&P 500. It’s worth mentioning here that no other broad market index around the world has a 24% weight to its top six names.
- Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL): 6.0% of the S&P 500
- Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT): 6.0%
- Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) (Google): 4.1%
- Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) 3.7%
- Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA): 2.1%
- Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB): 2.0%
Some of those companies did not even exist in 2000, while others were still in their infancy. The reality is, if you are an investor, there is almost no question that in some way, shape or form, you own all these stocks. So the best thing to do is to keep them in your portfolio but make sure your investments are not duplicated. Check your personal cash accounts versus retirement accounts. There is a good chance you own all of these stocks in different vehicles.
Note that both Alphabet and Microsoft posted stellar numbers this week and both closed up almost 5% on Wednesday, while the rest of the market buckled some after numerous all-time highs being printed recently and some buyer exhaustion.
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