Stock Rally Causing Look-Alike Portfolios

A study by Bank of America Merrill Lynch found an overlap in the top 50 stock holdings among mutual funds and hedge funds. This according to an article inThe Wall Street Journal.

Citing Bernstein data, the article reports that the most crowded trades included Amazon, Microsoft, Mastercard, Abbott Laboratories and PayPal.

“Investors are drawn to stocks that have performed well and risen fast,” the article reports. At the same time, it adds, “few are willing to risk going against the crowd. Stocks that are comparatively cheap have attracted little interest.” It cites comments from Bank of America Merrill Lynch equity strategist Savita Subramanian, who said, “This huge world of investible assets has shrunk down to a small cohort. We’re all in this echo chamber where everyone goes to the same dinners and drinks the same Kool-Aid.”

The article explains that this trend has been fueled by years of lukewarm expansion which has made investors hesitant to broaden their holdings horizons. But some investors, it adds, are concerned that the concentration of money in a short list of shares could “exacerbate market declines if bad news sparks a rush to the exits.”

While few seem to be changing their approach, the article concludes, “many are now increasing their positions in assets that would take the edge off a potential hit to their portfolios,” adding that gold prices are near their highest level in six years.