If you've been paying attention, you'll have noticed that there's been quite a rally in the stock market over the past six months. The S&P 500 is up about 37% since the beginning of March!

Given that the stock market has averaged about 10% annually over long periods, you would be correct to see that 37% as a whopping, unusual performance. It might even seem reasonable to think that we shouldn't expect much more advancement in the market any time soon. But think again.

For one thing, we just don't know what the market will do in the short run. No one knows. When the S&P 500 was up 25%, that would have seemed like a lot, too, yet it kept rising.

More important, though, is this: According to various sources, the segments of the market that have advanced most are the ones in which you might be least interested. For example:

  • According to Ford Equity Research, the stocks to which it has given its lowest ratings have averaged a 142% return from early March through late August, versus a 44% average return for the highest-rated stocks.
  • Also according to Ford Equity, the smallest 20% of stocks by market cap averaged 121% over the same time frame, as opposed to 52% for the largest 20%.
  • Over the summer, Morningstar's highest-quality stocks underperformed most of its other stock categories.

In other words, if you're looking for large-cap, large-quality companies, for blue chips and dividend-payers, they may not have advanced as much as you think in this recent rally. Here -- check out the 26-week returns of these stocks rated highly in our Motley Fool CAPS community of investors:

Company

CAPS Stars (out of 5)

26-Week Return

Dividend Yield

Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG)

*****

19%

3.1%

Verizon (NYSE:VZ)

****

10%

6.1%

Monsanto (NYSE:MON)

****

0%

1.3%

Altria (NYSE:MO)

****

11%

7.3%

McDonald's (NYSE:MCD)

****

5%

3.6%

China Mobile (NYSE:CHL)

*****

14%

3.3%

Automatic Data Processing (NASDAQ:ADP)

****

8%

3.4%

Data: Motley Fool CAPS.

And here's another thought: Even if high-quality stocks have, in general, risen considerably, that doesn't mean that every such stock has done so. It's true that in slumped markets like our current one, it's much easier to find bargains. But they exist even during go-go years. You just have to look harder. So don't despair today, or tomorrow -- keep seeking high-quality investments.

Learn more:

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Procter & Gamble and McDonald's. Morningstar is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Automatic Data Processing and Procter & Gamble are Motley Fool Income Investor recommendations. The Fool owns shares of Procter & Gamble and Morningstar. Try any of our investing newsletters free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.