Eq: Total Market

by Michael E. Schroer, CFA

Managing Partner and CIO of Renaissance Investment Management

Inflation data through October, released on November 10, showed an inflation rate below most expectations. If inflation has truly peaked and a serious recession is avoided, the historical evidence suggests that stocks are likely to do well going forward.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) posted a 0.4% rise on a month-to-month basis and a 7.7% change on a year-over-year basis, with the latter being the lowest annual rate reported since January. The core inflation rate (excluding food and energy components) was also below expectations, rising 0.3% on a month-to-month basis and 6.3% on an annual basis.

Rolling 12-Month Change in CPI, 1/1/1946–11/1/2022

Chart, line chart

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Sources: Renaissance Research, FactSet. 

 

Past performance is not indicative of future results. Performance for periods of one year or less is not annualized. All returns are shown in U.S. dollars. Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure that examines the weighted average of prices of a basket of consumer goods and services, such as transportation, food, and medical care. It is calculated by taking price changes for each item.

Annualized inflation has dropped meaningfully from its 8.5% rate in March. While it may be premature to declare that inflation has passed its highest level, it is still worthwhile to review what has happened in the past to stocks when inflation peaked. 

 

The chart above shows the annualized change in the CPI over the post-WWII era, with peaks in inflation noted (we only marked periods when inflation peaked at rates above 5%, similar to the current environment). The table below shows the price change of the S&P 500® Index over the 1, 3, and 5-year periods after a peak in inflation. 

Stocks have generally performed well following a peak in inflation, averaging a 59.2% gain in price five years afterward. The only periods when stocks did not post gains were in periods that included severe recessions, such as in 2008 and 1973-1974.

 

Stock Market Performance After Peaks in Inflation, 1/1/1946–11/1/2022

Table

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Sources: Bloomberg, FactSet.



The risk of a serious recession remains significant, as the Federal Reserve’s strategy of raising interest rates to choke off inflation may choke off economic growth as well. That said, if a serious recession is avoided partly because inflation peaked, historical precedent suggests that stocks are likely to do well in the future.

 

Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

This Market Update reflects the thoughts of Renaissance as of November 15, 2022. This information has been provided by Renaissance Investment Management. All material presented is compiled from sources believed to be reliable and current, but accuracy cannot be guaranteed. This is not to be construed as an offer to buy or sell any financial instruments and should not be relied upon as the sole factor in an investment making decision, nor should it be considered a recommendation. The views and opinions expressed are those of the Chief Investment Officer at the time of publication and are subject to change. There is no guarantee that these views will come to pass. As with all investments, there are associated inherent risks. Please obtain and review all financial material carefully before investing.

PERFORMANCE
If Renaissance or benchmark performance is shown, it represents historically achieved results, and is no guarantee of future performance. Future investments may be made under materially different economic conditions, in different securities, and using different investment strategies and these differences may have a significant effect on the results portrayed. Each of these material market or economic conditions may or may not be repeated. Therefore, there may be sharp differences between the benchmark or Renaissance performance shown and the actual performance results achieved by any particular client. Benchmark results are shown for comparison purposes only. The benchmark presented represents unmanaged portfolios whose characteristics differ from the composite portfolios; however, they tend to represent the investment environment existing during the time periods shown. The benchmark cannot be invested in directly. The returns of the benchmark do not include any transaction costs, management fees, or other costs. The holdings of the client portfolios in our composites may differ significantly from the securities that comprise the benchmark shown. The benchmark has been selected to represent what Renaissance believes is an appropriate benchmark with which to compare the composite performance.

The value of an investment may fall as well as rise. Please note that different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk and there can be no assurance that any specific investment will either be suitable or profitable for a client or prospective client’s investment portfolio. Investor principal is not guaranteed and investors may not receive the full amount of their investment at the time of sale if asset values have fallen. No assurance can be given that an investor will not lose invested capital. Consultants supplied with these performance results are advised to use this data in accordance with SEC guidelines. The actual performance achieved by a client portfolio may be affected by a variety of factors, including the initial balance of the account, the timing and amount of any additions to or withdrawals from the portfolio, changes made to the account to reflect the specific investment needs or preferences of the client, durations and timing of participation as a RIM client, and a client portfolio’s risk tolerance, investment objectives, and investment time horizon. All investments carry a certain degree of risk, including the loss of principal, and are not guaranteed by the U.S. government.

REFERENCED INDEX
(Indices are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment.)

S&P 500 Index—The S&P 500 Stock Index is a market capitalization weighted index and consists of 500 stocks chosen for market size, liquidity, and industry group representation.

S&P Midcap 400 Index—The S&P MidCap 400 Index, is a capitalization-weighted index that serves as a gauge for the U.S. mid-cap equities sector.

S&P Small Cap 600 Index—The S&P Small Cap 600 Index is a capitalization-weighted index that measures the performance of selected U.S. stocks with a small market capitalization.

S&P DATA
S&P Dow Jones is the source and owner of the trademarks, service marks, and copyrights related to the S&P Indexes. S&P® is a trademark of S&P Dow Jones. This presentation may contain proprietary S&P data and unauthorized use, disclosure, copying, dissemination, or redistribution is strictly prohibited. This is a presentation of Renaissance Investment Management. S&P Dow Jones is not responsible for the formatting or configuration of this material or for any inaccuracy in Renaissance’s presentation thereof. This data is to be used for the recipient’s internal use only.

Most investors would rather go to the dentist than take a look at their portfolios this year. 2022 has been a tough year for investors with both the equity and the fixed-income markets experiencing large drawdowns. Unless you’ve been all in on commodities this year, your portfolio has likely taken a hit.

This has been especially true for investors with large exposure to technology stocks. The Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK), which tracks the technology sector, is down 28% through October 21st. Out of the eleven SPDR Sector ETFs, only the Real Estate Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLRE) and the Communication Services Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLC) are down more.

 Screen Shot 2022-10-24 at 15.22.01.png

But who could blame an investor for a large technology allocation, especially with the way tech stocks had been performing over the last five years? Even during the last major selloff at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, the technology sector held up better than most sectors. However, this year, tech stocks have been anything but strong performers.

It’s not just technology either, all sector leadership has changed considerably over the past twelve months. At the end of the third quarter last year, consumer cyclicals, technology, and financials, ranked first, second, and third in the DALI sector rankings, while utilities, energy, and consumer staples ranked in the bottom three.

Fast forward to the third quarter this year, and energy, consumer staples, and utilities held the top spots, while technology, consumer cyclicals, and financials ranked in the eighth, tenth, and fourth spots.

Looking at the period between September 30, 2021, and September 30, 2022, a hypothetical equal-weighted portfolio consisting of the top sectors in Q3 2021, the Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK), the Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLY), and the Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLF) would have lost 20.06%, underperforming the S&P 500 by almost 3.5%.

But an equal-weighted portfolio made up of the top sectors in Q3 2022, including the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE), the Utilities Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLU), and the Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLP) would have gained 12.58% over the same period, outperforming the S&P 500 by more than 29% and the previous portfolio by 30%.

 Screen Shot 2022-10-24 at 15.22.10.png

That hypothetical difference of 30% reflects the cost of assuming that top sectors will remain at the top consistently. If instead, an investor followed a relative strength model and rotated with the market leaders, he or she would have likely been able to avoid those losses.

2022 is also notable as there is a nearly 80% year-to-date differential between the top-performing sector, the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE), and the bottom-performing sector, the Communication Services Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLC), indicating that there is, even more, to be gained this year by picking the top sector and avoiding the worst.

The change in leadership and the large differential this year provides a useful reminder that long-term sector trends such as technology can change quickly and investors would benefit from the use of relative strength.

Tap into DALI sector rankings and access more investing tools with a 30 day free trial of Nasdaq Dorsey Wright’s Research Platform.

It’s no secret that many active fund managers fail to beat their benchmarks over the long term, but investor trading activity in those funds is even worse. A Morningstar examination of investor returns in the largest active bond funds revealed self-destructive behavior by investors. According to Morningstar, investors in the 20 largest Intermediate Core Plus Bond funds, which have 10-year records, were so bad over the last ten years that they gave up more return than the Bloomberg US Aggregate index delivered. The average fund returned 2.11% annualized for the last ten years ending in August, while the Bloomberg US Aggregate index returned 1.35% return. Surprisingly, every single one of the 20 funds outperformed the index, but investors were not able to take advantage of this outperformance. Investors lost 75% of the average return the funds delivered, ending up with an 0.53% annualized return. Poor timing can account for the dismal returns for investors. Between 2021 and 2022, investors added $91 billion to the category looking for extra yield over the aggregate index. Unfortunately, this coincided with inflation which led to intermediate-term bond prices falling.



Finsum: Investors poured money into active fixed-income funds at the worst possible time, leading to massive underperformance compared to the funds.

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