The chart below shows the year to date return of the 25 largest stocks in the S&P 500 based on market cap. With all the talk of narrowing breadth in the market, we wanted to provide a look at which stocks are doing the heavy lifting. In an index where stocks are weighted primarily by market cap, the ones with the largest market cap will have the biggest impact on performance. As shown, the 25 largest stocks in the S&P 500 are up an average of 5.7% so far this year, which is well ahead of the 1.7% return of the overall index. Following today’s decline, shares of Apple (AAPL) are still outperforming the overall S&P 500, but among the stocks with the largest market cap, it is now trailing. Of the 25 stocks listed, 10 are down year to date, with Chevron (CVX) leading the way to the downside at -24.1%. Behind CVX, Exxon (XOM), Procter and Gamble (PG), and Wal-Mart (WMT) are all bunched together with declines of about 16%.
On the upside, Amazon.com (AMZN) has been the clear winner with a gain of 71.7% so far in 2015. Walt Disney (DIS) has been the second-best performing stock in the index, but compared to AMZN, its 29.3% gain looks puny. After DIS, three other stocks are up more than 20% (Gilead, Google, and Facebook). What’s interesting to note about the performance of the 25 largest stocks in the S&P 500 is that although they are collectively up an average of 5.7%, just 9 of the 25 stocks listed are up more than average. Recently, some people have suggested that the S&P 500 is being held up by the performance of just a handful of stocks. While we would agree that breadth has certainly narrowed, we wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s just a handful of stocks.