Among the five major U.S. equity averages, the Nasdaq Composite I:IXIC is the best performer with a year-to-date gain of 14.5%. The Nasdaq set its all-time intraday high of 6,170.16 on May 16, so its knocking on the door of a new high. The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index SOX has outperformed the Nasdaq with a gain of 18.6% year to date, setting its multiyear intraday high of 1,077.05, also on May 16. The SOX is well below its all-time intraday high of 1,362.10 set in March 2000.

The semiconductor industry is an important segment of the economy as almost every product we buy, from our automobiles to our smartphones contain computer chips.

Investors can begin with the iShares PHLX Semiconductor ETF (SOXX) - Get Report , and compare this exchange-traded fund to its top five components. Broadcom (AVGO) - Get Report has a weighting of 8.11%, Intel (INTC) - Get Report has a weighting of 7.09%, Qualcomm (QCOM) - Get Report is 7.53%, NVIDIA (NVDA) - Get Report is the largest at 9.82% and Texas Instruments (TXN) - Get Report with a weighting of 7.53%. Only two of the five are outperforming the ETF as shown below.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.