An article in the Economist highlighted research suggesting that most investors shouldn’t avoid popular stocks simply because they are popular. The basic premise was that much of the benefit of stock market participation has been derivative of a small number of securities.
A recent paper* by Hendrik Bessembinder of Arizona State University explains why. Since 1926, most stockmarket returns in America have come from a tiny fraction of shares. Just five stocks (Apple, ExxonMobil, Microsoft, GE and IBM) accounted for a tenth of all the wealth created for shareholders between 1926 and 2016. The top 50 stocks account for two-fifths of the total. More than half the 25,000 or so stocks listed in America in the past 90 years proved to be worse investments than Treasury bills.