Why Small-Caps Are Crushing Big Techs

(This article originally ran at 3:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Nov. 30, on Real Money, our premium site for active traders. Click here to get great columns like this from Jim Cramer and other writers earlier in the trading day.)

Small-caps are hot and Big Tech is not these days.

The Russell 2000 small-cap index recently scored a 15-session winning streak and has gained some 11.7% over the past month, while the once-popular FANG stocks have tumbled. Facebook (FB) is down some 8%, while Amazon (AMZN) is off about 3.5%, Netflix (NFLX) is nearly 5% lower and Alphabet/Google (GOOGL) has lost roughly 2.5%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index is faring better, but is only up some 3.3% over the past 30 days:

Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities, said small-caps' recent surge is part of a larger shift by major investors toward a Donald Trump-friendly portfolio of companies and sectors that have more of a U.S. domestic focus. He said those stocks have become popular because of President-elect Trump's economic-nationalist, anti-globalization rhetoric.

Trump's wish list includes $1 trillion of domestic infrastructure spending, along with aggressive financial-sector deregulation and lots of tax cuts for U.S. corporations. Hogan said the tax cuts will likely have a significant positive impact on small- and mid-sized companies given that they don't have the armies of lawyers that bigger firms use to find loopholes in the current tax code.

The expert added that higher U.S. government spending and less regulation could provide a big boost for the Russell 2000's large number of infrastructure companies, industrial firms and regional banks. He said regional banks will also likely benefit from the rising interest rates that many expect Trump's policies to spawn.

Ben Carlson, a director of institutional asset management at Ritholtz Wealth Management in New York, said small-caps also seem like better bets for a Trump era because their underlying businesses mostly focus on the U.S. market. That should insulate them to some extent from any fluctuations in overseas economies or global trading.

"They are much less global and much more tied to the U.S. economy," Carlson said. "The United States is a good house in a bad neighborhood as far as developed economies go."

Carlson said small-caps are also less likely to suffer from the strengthening U.S. dollar that markets have seen recently. By contrast, a strong greenback can create problems for big multinationals that depend on exports.

It's no coincidence that small-caps are rising just as large-cap techs are seeing their share prices fall. Experts say large institutional players are rotating out of large-cap tech names that have done extraordinarily well over the past few years, as those stocks look vulnerable to Trump-infused changes in global demand and trade.

For instance, market watchers say big companies appear less likely to benefit from corporate-tax cuts, since as noted above, they already have legal teams to find them loopholes. Hogan said America's tech titans could also take a hit if Trump succeeds in cracking down on immigration, reducing Silicon Valley's access to global talent.

Adam Sarhan of Florida's 50 Park Investments said individual investors can still take advantage of the rotation out of Big Tech and into small-caps, but shouldn't run out and blindly buy small stocks.

"Wait for a pullback -- I wouldn't chase anything," Sarhan said. "If you are chasing after a big move up, you inevitably get burned."

He likes the Vanguard Small-Cap Index Fund (NAESX) , the iShares Russell 2000 Growth Index ETF (IWO) and the iShares MSCI EAFE Small-Cap ETF (SCZ) .

Hogan favors infrastructure companies like Dallas-based CSW Industrials (CSWI) given Trump's talk of big spending on roads and bridges. But the expert also warns that small-caps are "very much like biotech -- you have to pick your spots."

At the time of publication, Van Voorhis had no positions in the stocks mentioned.

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