Only one FAANG stock is at the top of a ranking of most-popular stocks among the best-performing investment newsletters I monitor.
And one FAANG stock is so unpopular that it is not currently owned in any of those newsletters' model portfolios.
The FAANG stocks, of course, are Facebook (FB - Get Report) , Apple (AAPL - Get Report) , Amazon (AMZN - Get Report) , Netflix (NFLX - Get Report) , and Alphabet/Google (GOOGL - Get Report) . Their relative unpopularity comes as a surprise, because for several years now they have been at the top of many most-popular lists -- veritable Wall Street darlings. An additional reason it is surprising: Despite being ahead of the dividend-adjusted S&P 500 for year-to-date performance (22.2%, on average, versus 17.4%), some still believe the stocks actually are inexpensive right now.
The best-performing newsletters aren't buying that argument, however. That's because, on the whole, these top performers favor high-quality, dividend-paying stocks with low valuations. The seven stocks tied for most popular among these newsletters currently have an average forward-looking P/E ratio of 13.2, according to FactSet, versus an average of 35.7 among the FAANG stocks.
The newsletters' most popular stocks all sport relatively high dividend yields, furthermore. Their current average yield is 2.8%, for example, nearly double the 1.5% current yield on the 10-year Treasury note. In contrast, the five FAANG stocks have an average dividend yield of just 0.2%.
The top performers' bias against high-flying growth stocks is clear even from the one FAANG stock that does make it onto the list of the newsletters' most popular -- Apple. That's because it has the lowest forward-looking P/E of any of the group (16.5 versus an average of 40.5 among the other four), and it also is the only one of the FAANG stocks that pays any dividend.
The newsletters' current most popular stocks, besides Apple, are:
You might be concerned that these top performers are sending a worrisome message about the overall market's prospects, given that the stocks they are favoring should better weather a downturn than the high-flying growth stocks in the FAANG group. But there's no need to worry, at least on these grounds: Almost without exception, these top-performing newsletters don't try to time the stock market's shorter-term gyrations. They favor high-quality dividend-paying stocks with low P/E ratios at all times, not just now.
So you can't read any implicit market-timing message into the stock selections of these top performers.
That said, however, it is true that the stocks these newsletter editors favor also tend to lose less than the market averages during bear markets. So if you did think the odds of a bear market are higher than normal right now, it would behoove you to shift your portfolio away from high-flying growth stocks towards the kind of stocks favored by these top performers.
What if the bull market nevertheless continues? Fortunately, if that were to happen, a portfolio of high-quality, dividend-paying, low P/E stocks should be able to hold its own. For example, since the bull market began in 2009, these top-performing newsletters have produced an average annualized return of 12.0% -- just shy of the 12.8% annualized return of the overall market (as measured by the dividend-adjusted Wilshire 5000 index).
You may very well consider that 0.8 of an annualized percentage point to be a more-than-reasonable price to pay to gain at least some downside protection in a bear market.
Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Alphabet, Disney and JP Morgan are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells these stocks? Learn more now.