Equity Strategies Group-Level Analysis Of The Equity Markets
The top-three-rated sectors are Communication Services, Information Technology, and Financials. As recently as March, Financials ranked in 9th place out of 11 sectors; it has now placed among the top four since May. Real Estate dropped out of the top three after a two-month visit and is situated in 5th place this round. For the fifth consecutive month, the three lowest-ranked sectors are Utilities, Materials, and Energy.
Performance has been robust for this group, rising on a relative strength basis since the end of 2017. Its diverse mix of constituents equates to a group that, overall, is middle-of-road in terms of beta and volatility relative to other industries. These dynamics have contributed to its solid relative returns across diverging market environments of late.
The Homebuilding stocks represent another Consumer Discretionary group ranking Attractive via our GS Scores; we have held the Homebuilding group for the last year and a half. Homebuilders is an extremely rate-conscious industry group given mortgage rates’ impact on housing affordability (and thus, demand).
Although Discretionary stocks broadly underperformed during October’s market decline, prominent amongst the very top industry group performers was a rather unexpected genre of industries—brick & mortar retail. Not only did this cohort hold up during October’s tumult, but many of the underlying stocks have been posting strong returns all year.
For the fifth consecutive month, the top-three rated sectors are Health Care, Consumer Discretionary, and Info Tech. The newly launched Communication Services sector (which replaces Telecom Services) debuts with a strong ranking in fourth place. Rounding out the bottom end of the rankings are Utilities, Materials, and Real Estate.
Recently, Health Care stocks have been making headlines as the sector rallies to new all-time highs. However, when we look at the sector via Leuthold’s proprietarily-built industry group composition—which has a more realistic market-cap weighting approach—the Health Care sector has been outperforming since the end of 2017, and YTD it is the #1 performing sector in our work.
Health Care remains the highest-rated sector followed by Info Tech and Consumer Discretionary. These sectors have ranked among the top three since June. At the low end of the rankings are Utilities, Telecom Services, and Materials, all of which have been among the bottom three positions for three consecutive months.
Movies & Entertainment & Broadcasting’s Group Selection (GS) Score has been steadily improving of late; it rose to High Neutral in March and pushed up to Attractive two months ago. Currently a member of the Consumer Discretionary sector, this is a less-correlated option to the many retail industries also currently ranking strongly among the Discretionary components.
Consumer Discretionary has held on to the highest-rated spot for six consecutive months. Coming in last (again) is Utilities. After rating among the lowest two positions between April 2017 and April 2018, Energy finally improved and now sits in 6th place—the middle of the pack.
This year we’ve written several notes surrounding the Consumer Discretionary sector’s prominence among our top Group Selection (GS) Scores. This pattern persisted for a fifth consecutive month in April.