If you have faith in analysts, you might conclude that stocks with a lot of "buy" recommendations would outperform those with a lot of "sell" recommendations. Unfortunately, this isn't the case - at least, not since stock markets have bounced back from multi-year lows in early March.
According to Bespoke Investment Group , sectors in the S&P 500 with the most positive analyst ratings have lagged the sectors with the most negative analyst ratings during the six-week rally.
Health care stocks have enjoyed the most "buy" recommendations (57 per cent of the total number, versus just 4 per cent of analysts who have given the stocks "sell" recommendations). However, they have suffered the worst performance, with gains of just 10.2 per cent, versus 25 per cent for the broad index.
Energy, telecom, utilities and consumer staples have also received a lot of "buy" recommendations, ranging from 48 per cent to 54 per cent. They too have been the underperformers during the rally, with gains ranging from 11.5 per cent to 18 per cent.
"Analysts are typically lagging indicators, and they have moved to a defensive position in recent months," Bespoke said on its blog. "This defensive stance has caused major underperformance as the S&P has rallied 25 per cent off its lows."
Meanwhile, stocks with a low number of "buy" recommendations have outperformed. For example, financials lead the way, with "buy" recommendations representing just 35 per cent of the total. These stocks have jumped nearly 68 per cent during the rally. Consumer discretionary stocks have been the second-best performers with a similar number of "buy" recommendations.