Can Mega Cap Growth Make A Comeback?
One of the most important, yet consistently underappreciated, aspects of technical analysis is the concept of relative strength .
As a portfolio manager, one must be held accountable to some type of benchmark. And thus, if we want to outperform said benchmark, we most own things that are outperforming the benchmark! Participating in trends and capturing profitable trades is the goal that every trader and investor envisions when they enter a position. And of course, this is what indeed what we want in the end…profits. But those profits need to be greater than your benchmark, or else, what is the point?
This is a concept that we at Adaptiv are constantly applying across any stock (or asset) when considering it for a position for clients. We are always looking to be involved in the strongest areas of the market. If we know that major indices, for all intents and purposes, are just the average return of a basket of stocks, then we also know that some stocks must be doing better than the average and some must be doing worse. It seems like common sense to participate in the stocks and trends that are indeed stronger than the average stock, or in our case, the benchmark. Sometimes the rotation between leading areas happens slowly as strength can stay within certain sectors and sub-industries for many months or even years. In other environments, the rotation can be quick and less-sticky, much like we saw in 2021. While we as market participants do not get to choose the pace of rotation, it is still a practice that must be constantly applied, in order to consistently create alpha.
One area that is very important to the broad market is the Growth/Tech theme, and more specifically the largest capitalized stocks within that area. We know that these stocks have a very large influence on the market as a whole. When they are leading, the market usually finds itself in an easier uptrend, like we saw more recently in 2017, the first half of 2018, and 2020, following the ‘Covid lows’.
The relative relationship between these mega cap stocks and the S&P 500 , as mentioned above, has been trendless for nearly two years. And over the last twelve-plus months, I think it’s fair to say the ‘average’ stock has been quite a mess. And the lack of trending leadership from these important stocks certainly hasn’t helped. But could a turn around be under way? We recently saw a failed breakdown (black line) in this relationship, following a well-anticipated bullish RSI divergence (not pictured). As any well-studied technician knows, the old adage “from failed moves come fast moves” can be a very important one. Given this new information, we should not be surprised if Mega Cap Growth stocks substantially outperforming in the coming weeks,
What about the most important names within this area? What stocks could we look at for clues as to where the broader relationship could potentially go? I think Apple gives a great insight as to what other large Growth names could do on a relative basis over the short- to intermediate-term. And it just so happens that the relationship between Apple and the S&P 500 is currently sitting at a very important inflection point. Should this ratio break higher (above the purple line), I think it bodes well for Apple’s peer group as well.
Lastly, we know that a big chunk of the Mega Cap Growth arena consists of Tech stocks. Almost 40% to be exact. So, we would also want to look at this sector as well for any information that this theme, and thus stocks similar to Apple , are indeed moving into a period of outperformance. Similar to the first two relationships, this one has also been range bound for many, many months. However, broad Tech seems to have a little bit more short-term resistance than Mega Cap Growth. In order to increase the confidence of alpha generation from this area, I think technicians want to see this relationship rise above the blue line.
If we can get all three of these relationship to confirm new relative uptrends in the coming weeks/months, I think that bodes very well not just for this subset of names, but the market as a whole.
Ian McMillan, CMT
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