The Dow's New High Is Hiding This Key Market Rotation

Investors stayed in the holiday spirit for the most part on Wednesday, with solid gains in much of the market that sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) and S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) to record levels. The Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC), however, missed out on the rally and fell once again, extending its losses from Tuesday.


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Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

The Dow last hit a record high on Nov. 8, and today’s closing level left the average higher by about 40 points from where it was roughly seven weeks ago. Yet among the 30 stocks in the Dow, there’ve been some big swings that show an interest rotation in the market.

Image source: Getty Images.

Three big winners 

The top performers in the Dow since the average last set new all-time highs in early November are all stocks that investors have increasingly turned to as defensive plays. That includes the traditional safe stock Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), which has risen 13% in the time between new Dow highs.

However, investors might need to get used to the idea that tech giants can also be considered to be conservative investments. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been the best performer over the time period, jumping nearly 20%. Apple combines a lot of attractive features with considerable growth due to its ongoing dominance of the high-end smartphone market but healthy levels of cash flow that support dividends and massive stock buybacks. Similarly, Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) picked up 12% since early November, and the ongoing demand for networking upgrades to take advantage of cloud computing and other tech innovations should help support its business regardless of the economic environment. Both tech stocks have attractive valuations that offer value at what could be an inflection point for the market.

On the other side of the coin

If tech value plays are in vogue, more growth-oriented names are still out of favor. (NYSE:CRM) has been the worst performer in the Dow, falling 18% since early November. The customer relationship management software platform provider has led the rest of the software-as-a-service industry lower, as investors fear that rising interest rates could make it harder for high-growth companies to get capital and might discount their future earnings too much to justify current rich valuations.

In addition, investors seem to be taking the omicron COVID-19 variant more seriously than much of the general public. Shares of Disney (NYSE:DIS) were down 12% over the past seven weeks, while Boeing (NYSE:BA) saw a 9% drop. Both companies stand to suffer if soaring case counts spur government officials to impose new restrictions on travel and entertainment, and the news comes at a time when many shareholders had hoped that Disney and Boeing had gotten past the worst of their challenges.

Keep an eye on the market

Even when stock markets soar, there are always interesting things happening beneath the surface. By being aware of changing trends, you can sometimes get ahead of them and improve your returns.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.