May 15 2017
Does performance tell the whole story?
American stock markets have delivered some exceptional performance in recent years. Just look at the Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) Index. Barron’s reported the S&P 500, including reinvested dividends, has returned 215 percent since April 30, 2009. The index is currently trading 50 percent above its 2007 high.
The rest of the world’s stocks, as measured by the MSCI EAFE Index, which includes stocks from developed countries in Europe, Australia, and the Far East, returned 97 percent in U.S. dollars during the same period. At the end of April, the MSCI EAFE Index was 20 percent below its 2007 high.
If you subscribe to the ‘buy low, sell high’ philosophy of investing then these performance numbers may have you thinking about portfolio reallocation. However, performance doesn’t tell the full story.
For example, there’s a significant difference between the types of companies included in the two indices. At the end of April, Information Technology stocks comprised 22.5 percent of the S&P 500 Index and just 5.7 percent of the MSCI EAFE Index. Financial stocks accounted for 14.1 percent of the S&P 500 and 21.4 percent of MSCI EAFE.
It’s important to dig beneath the surface and understand the drivers behind performance before making assumptions or changing portfolio allocations.
Even so, European stocks have the potential to deliver decent performance this year, according to Barron’s. “The case for a revival in European stocks, particularly the Continent’s many multinationals, rests in large part on expectations for improving global growth…This year Europe’s GDP is expected to increase by about 2 percent, after growing 1.7 percent in 2016 – better than the U.S.’s 1.6 percent.”
Last week, the S&P 500 Index moved slightly lower.
- Data as of 5/12/20171-WeekY-T-D1-Year3-Year5-Year10-Year
- Standard & Poor’s 500 (Domestic Stocks)-0.0040.0680.1580.080.1230.048
- Dow Jones Global ex-U.S.0.611.415.6-0.64.9-1.1
- 10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)2.3NA22.214.171.124.7
- Gold (per ounce)0.36.2-3.8-1.8-4.66.3
- Bloomberg Commodity Index1-4.6-1.5-15-8.9-7
- DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index-126.96.36.199.29.74.9
S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.
Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.