After US equities had their best month in four years, you can bet that there were some big winners during the month. There were also a lot of winners, especially in large-cap stocks. The table to the right shows the percentage of S&P 1500 stocks that saw positive returns during the month of October. Within the large-cap S&P 500, breadth was the strongest as 83.2% of stocks in the index were in the black for the month. October was less positive for small cap stocks and that can be seen in the breadth reading at right where less than three-quarters of stocks in the index (73.4%) were positive, which was nearly 10 percentage points lower than the reading for the large-cap S&P 500.
The chart below shows October breadth readings by sector broken out by market cap. Outside of Telecom Services, where 100% of stocks were higher in all three market cap ranges (sector only has 14 stocks), the next strongest breadth reading was in large cap Materials where 96% of stocks were higher. Mid-cap stocks in the sector were also strong as 93.5% of stocks in that sector were up in the month. Besides those two areas of the Materials sector, the only other sector that saw more than 90% of its components higher in the month was the mid-cap Energy sector. One notable area of weakness was in the Consumer Discretionary sector. While three-quarters of the large cap stocks in the sector were higher during the month, less than half of its mid-cap components were up and just 54.8% of its small-cap components traded higher. So much for lower gas prices and a strong employment situation being positive tailwinds for the consumer cyclical sector.
Finally, the table below lists the best-performing stocks in the S&P 1500 during the month of October. Altogether, a total of 32 stocks rallied 30% or more with five of those 32 rallying more than 50%. The top performing stock in the index was Wausau Paper (WPP) which jumped nearly 60%. Most people have probably never heard of WPP, or any of the other top five stocks for that matter, but there were some more well-known large cap stocks that made the list. These include SanDisk (SNDK), FirstSolar (FSLR), Wynn Resorts (WYNN), and du Pont (DD).