Jun 16, 2023 - Economy

The stock market’s high-flyers have a new nickname

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Behold the "Magnificent Seven," the emerging shorthand for the seemingly unstoppable septet of big tech firms driving the market higher.

Why it matters: Bull markets are often defined by the kind of groupthink that gets expressed in easy-to-remember mnemonic devices.

  • So the emergence of the "Magnificent Seven" as a talking point suggests a bullish psychology is indeed taking hold.

State of play: The stock market continues to gather steady momentum, with the S&P 500 notching the strongest of six straight gains on Thursday and climbing to another new high for the year.

  • The S&P is now up 15.3% in 2023.
  • It's less than 8% from hitting a new record high.

Between the lines: The only reason stocks are in such good shape is because of the performance of seven massive tech titans that are responsible for almost all of the market's increase this year.

What they're saying: "The overwhelming evidence suggested this year’s gains were the doing of the newly minted 'Magnificent Seven,'" wrote Christine Short, analyst at research firm Wall Street Horizon.

  • Steve Sosnick, an analyst for Interactive Brokers, recently spotlighted the outperformance of the Nasdaq compared with the S&P 500, saying the divergence "reveals just how much of this month’s market energy has been created by what we termed 'The Magnificent Seven.'"

The Magnificent Seven are: Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Amazon, Nvidia, Tesla, and Meta.

  • Combined, they're up nearly 90% this year, in a rally fueled by excitement about their exposure to the AI, relief at the Fed's move away from interest rate hikes — which hammered tech in 2022 — and their truly remarkable ability to produce massive profits and shower the proceeds on shareholders in the form of buybacks and dividends.
  • The term first burbled up in late May, as the surge in Nvidia shares caught the eye of market analysts.
  • CNBC's stock market showman Jim Cramer has latched onto it and made it a cornerstone of his calls for the market to move higher.

Backstory: Such shorthand for stock market winners often feature prominently during bullish market phases.

  • In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the so-called "nifty fifty," were a group of seemingly indestructible stocks — including Polaroid, Sears and Eastman-Kodak — that captured the minds of investors.
  • In the late 1990s, the "Four Horsemen" — Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle and Intel — led the markets uphill.
  • Excitement over investments in emerging markets in the mid-2000s was accompanied by pervasive usage of "the BRICs" — Brazil, Russia, India and China — as a term of art for the fast-growing nations at the heart of the investment frenzy.
  • More recently, the FAANGs — Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google — was the preferred nomenclature of market darlings du jour.

The bottom line: There's not a whole lot of analytical rigor that goes into such easy-to-remember stock market shortcuts. The path forward for the "Magnificent Seven" and the markets is, of course, uncertain.

  • But as emblems of shifts in the market's mood, they're pretty powerful and could be a sign that we are indeed in a bull market again.

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