While 2010 was a year in which economic worries abounded and fears of a double-dip recession were sky-high, an unlikely sector led the market’s gains: consumer discretionary firms — i.e., those that make non-essential products.
In his latest Barron’s article, Mark Hulbert touches on the unusual result. What’s just as interesting, he notes, is that consumer discretionary stocks were close to being the worst-performing sector during the 2002-07 bull market, a period in which the economy was humming along nicely.
Such a swing, Hulbert says, doesn’t always happen. But it is “more the rule than the exception,” he adds. He cites data from Ned Davis Research that shows that, since 1974, there has been an extremely low level of correlation between the sectors that lead one bull market and the sectors that lead the next bull run. “In other words, how a sector ranked in a previous period tells us very little about its future prospects,” Hulbert says. “All of which provides strong support for the conclusion that we need to look elsewhere than last year’s sector rankings for a forecast of which sectors are likely to lead the market in coming months.”
In assessing which sectors or industries to look to, Hulbert examined the recommendations of some of the top-performing newsletters he tracks through Hulbert Financial Digest. The two industries that top the list: electronic equipment and pharmaceuticals. Others that rank high: medical equipment and semiconductors.
Hulbert also offers some specific stock picks in those industries from top-performing advisors. To read the full article, click here.