Review & Outlook

Our take on the investing, financial, & economic themes of the day

Comment on Short-Term (ytd 2009) Performance

18 December, 2009 by Ben O'Brien in Commentary

There are times when the S&P 500 looks like it is doing great but when really only parts of it are doing well. We saw this in the late 1990s, as we said above, when high tech and Internet stocks soared and pulled the rest of the average along behind. We are seeing the phenomenon again. Low-quality stocks – – the autos, banks, mortgage companies left for dead last spring – – are soaring, while stable and high quality stocks like Exxon are not. Our portfolios owns high quality stocks. They are up nicely through November 30, 2009 (in double-digit figures) but the S&P 500 is up even more at 24.08%. Anyone trying to best the price performance of the S&P 500 must today own more low-quality stocks (more banks, auto companies, mortgage companies) than are in the S&P 500 index. This is not a game one wants to play at this time, at least not in our opinion. We think one should still own stocks, but of the high quality sort. Let someone else play musical chairs with the risky sectors of the market.