LONDON -- From out of the chaos that is today's market for New Economy stocks, comes some order.
After a second major collapse of New Economy stocks on Monday, which saw the U.K.'s
index drop 4% to 2,915.7, a clear pattern is emerging as to which sectors have recovered from the first "Gray Monday" fall on April 17, and which have lost even more ground.
The Techmark has fallen a further 14% since Gray Monday, which was the index's first major plummet, and is now at its lowest level since November when the index was launched. It is clear that, during those five weeks between the two unhappy Mondays, investors have been running for cover. However, while many investors have pulled completely out of such stocks, it does appear that there are certain sectors that are providing relative safety.
Scrutinizing the performance of the 100 constituents of the Techmark over the last five weeks reveals that while biotech, health care and pharmaceutical stocks have shone, electronic-equipment shares have flickered, and the shares of Internet firms have gone dark.
Worst Performing Techmark Stocks Between 4/17 and 5/22
Best Performing Techmark Stocks Between 4/17 and 5/22
The pharmaceutical- and biotech-sector constituents of the Techmark averaged a 5% gain over the past five weeks, and seven of the top-15 performers since Gray Monday are companies in these sectors:
is up 29%,
, up 26%,
, up 21%,
, up 21%,
, up 13%,
, up 9%, and
, up 7%.
Another sector that has comfortably outperformed the index and moved into positive territory since Gray Monday is electronic equipment. Indeed,
Domino Printing Sciences
was the best-performing stock in the index, adding 40% to its share price in the past five weeks.
On the negative side, the worst-performing stocks, not surprisingly, were the pure-play Internets, which have all fallen 30% since Grey Monday.
Geo Interactive Media
, down 55%, and
, down 51%, were the worst performers, although
stands out as an exception largely because of persistent rumors that it is close to being bought.
The new telcos run the Internet firms a close second for the prize of "Worst-Performing Sector," averaging a 25% fall from Gray Monday. The most battered include
, down 42%, and
, down 40%.
Join the Club
The collapse in the price of some of these stocks comes at a time when investors and analysts are punching in the market-capitalization figures in an attempt to work out which stocks will join the
and Techmark indices at the next quarterly review on June 7, and which are destined to drop out.
This is important, because managers of index-tracker funds traditionally start buying up the shares they think will join the indices and sell those they believe will drop out.
According to market caps on Monday, four of the New Economy stocks that were caught up in a wave that bumped them into the FTSE look set to be bumped out of the index by another wave. Those four are
They look likely to be replaced by three Old Economy stocks:
Scottish & Newcastle
, and one recently floated tech company,
Trying to second-guess the market and to buy up the stocks in the hope they will join the indices is a perilous task at the best of times. With the recent volatility in this segment of the market, the job has become nigh on impossible.
"Oh no, I don't chase these things," says one fund manager, who declined to be named. "And especially not now; everything's obscured by this volatility."
Even if you do guess right, the rewards are entirely dependent on when the share was bought. What usually happens is that the prices of the shares rise in the runup to the review and once they enter the index they are sold down again.
"The performances of these promoted stocks have not historically been particularly good," says the fund manager, complaining that market makers often "play silly buggers and ramp up the prices."
Proving once again that it is usually better to travel than arrive.