Top Wall Street strategist explains why he's abandoning an S&P 500 target


Piper Sandler will no longer release year-end price targets for the S&P 500 (^GSPC) after concluding that the index no longer truly reflects the stock market’s performance.

In a video interview on Yahoo Finance, Piper Sandler co-chief investment strategist Michael Kantrowitz explained the firm’s reasoning.

“In the last few months, as I was trying to think about raising my target again, I didn’t really feel that comfortable being intellectually honest saying that I can have a high conviction view of where the S&P 500 is going to end up,” Kantrowitz said. “Nor did I think it really adds value to our clients who are institutional investors.”

According to a note from Piper Sandler, a small group of high-performing stocks, including “Magnificent Seven” tech names such as Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL), Apple (AAPL), and Tesla (TSLA), significantly influence the market’s activity.

Piper Sandler found that the top 10 stocks represented 75% of the index’s year-to-date returns. And, as Yahoo Finance’s Josh Schafer observed, AI darling Nvidia (NVDA) was solely responsible for nearly one-third of the S&P 500’s gains as of late June.

Kantrowitz maintained the importance of having a bullish or bearish view of the market and reiterated that Piper Sandler continues to have a bullish view for this year. Previously, the firm’s year-end price target for the S&P 500 stood at 5,250. On Monday, the benchmark index closed at 5,572.

However, Kantrowitz cited how investors view large caps and smaller-cap stocks differently due to their respective performances. While the S&P 500 managed to reach all-time highs in the second quarter of this year, the average stock saw a decline in value.

Instead of focusing on the S&P 500, Kantrowitz told Yahoo Finance that he recommends clients prioritize “quality at a reasonable price” by focusing on companies that outpace their peers in terms of earnings growth but aren’t the most expensive.

“You kind of have to sacrifice a little bit of growth, perhaps, in quality to find names that aren’t egregiously expensive,” he said. “We’ve got — in the S&P 500 — 50 names that have beaten the index this year, and it’s not just about all AI or all tech.”

Earlier this year, multiple strategists raised their targets for the S&P 500 due to the record-breaking rally that had continued to pick up steam. Ultimately, strategists are finding it difficult to keep up, and there may be more that take a similar approach to Piper Sandler and pivot away from monitoring the index.

Year to date, the S&P 500 is up nearly 17%.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 18: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on June 18, 2024 in New York City. After the S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed at record highs Monday, U.S. stocks were up in early trading Tuesday. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 18: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on June 18, 2024 in New York City. After the S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed at record highs Monday, U.S. stocks were up in early trading Tuesday. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on June 18 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) (Spencer Platt via Getty Images)

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