Over the past several years, actively managed mutual funds have had a rough go of things. Laggard performances coupled with high fees have prompted investors to pull billions of dollars from active funds and allocate that capital to lower-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs). However, the popular FAANG stocks are helping bolster performance at some actively managed funds. The FAANG quintet comprises Facebook, Inc. (FB), Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN), Apple Inc. (AAPL), Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) and Google parent Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL). Those stocks combine for over 35% of the Nasdaq-100 Index and constitute marquee holdings at an array of active mutual funds.
"GOOGL, AAPL and FB were among the top ten largest increases in fund positions during 2Q 2017," said Goldman Sachs in a research note out Monday. "FB and GOOGL are also in our newly rebalanced mutual fund overweight basket (GSTHMFOW), while AAPL is the most underweight stock among large-cap funds (GSTHMFUW)." (See also: Should Investors Nix Actively Managed Funds?)
At the sector level, active managers were most overweight technology and financial services names over the past few months, according to Goldman research. Technology, the largest sector weight in the S&P 500, is the best performing sector in the U.S. this year. Financial services, the second largest sector allocation in the S&P 500, is something of a laggard. As measured by the Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF), financials are up just 6.7% year to date compared with a 9.4% gain for the S&P 500.
"GOOGL (+18 basis points), AAPL (+16 bp) and FB (+12 bp) were among the top ten increases in large-cap mutual fund positions during 2Q 2017. FB and GOOGL are also popular among hedge funds," according to Goldman. (See also: FAANG Stock Prices Can Continue to Climb Higher.)
Data suggest that allocations to the FAANG stocks are helping large-cap active managers boost year-to-date returns. "Large-cap mutual funds have delivered solid returns year to date," said Goldman. "The share of funds outpacing their benchmarks is above the 10-year average, and performance has improved since early 2017. Forty-four percent of large-cap core, growth and value mutual funds have generated higher returns than their respective benchmarks year to date compared with an average of 37% since 2007."
Not surprisingly, technology is driving returns, as most active funds are overweight tech. Investors should note that Amazon and Netflix are not classified as technology stocks. Instead, those stocks are members of the consumer discretionary sector, the fourth largest sector weight in the S&P 500. "The average large-cap mutual fund is overweight Info Tech by 144 bp, the largest overweight across all sectors. Info Tech is also the best performing sector year to date, outpacing the S&P 500 by 13 percentage points (24% vs. 11%)," said Goldman. (See also: Why Facebook's Value Is Best Among FAANGs.)