It may have taken a bit longer than the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500, but the Nasdaq Composite recently hit a new all-time high, which is really saying something considering how far the tech-heavy index fell from the bursting of the 2001 dot-com bubble.
What's even more impressive is just how well the Nasdaq 100, which you can purchase as the PowerShares QQQ Trust, has performed. Over the last 10 years, the Nasdaq Composite has risen by an impressive 133%, while the Nasdaq 100 has jumped by 182%. Inclusive of the expense fees paid to own the PowerShares QQQ ETF, investors would still have outperformed the Composite by 46 percentage points over 10 years.
Chances are, you've come across the Nasdaq 100 either while reading the newspaper, watching a financial news program, or conducting your own research. But how much do you really know about this widely followed index? My bet is less than you think.
With that in mind, here are five fun facts about the Nasdaq 100 you may not know.
1. There are actually more than 100 stocks in the Index.
You'd like to think an index known as the "Nasdaq 100" would have 100 stocks comprising it, but that's actually not the case. Although the 100 largest Nasdaq-listed companies by market value comprise the index, a number of its components have multiple classes of shares, meaning there are actually 107 different stocks that make up the Index.
For example, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) split into Class A and Class C shares in 2014. The Class A shares (GOOGL) carry one vote per share, while Class C shares (GOOG) have no voting power. The reason for the split was to give Google's co-founders, Sergey Brin, and Larry Page, a way to issue shares to employees as compensation without diluting their remaining voting power. Brin and Page own a majority of Class B shares, which come with 10 votes per share.
Within the Nasdaq 100, both Google's Class A and Class C shares are included in the Index's value. You'll find separate voting classes for other Nasdaq 100 components, too, including Discovery Communications, 21st Century Fox, and Liberty Media. You can see a full list of the components here.
2. Not everyone is invited to the party.
Although the Nasdaq 100 is open to the 100 largest non-financial companies listed on the Nasdaq, not every large company will become a component in the Index.
For instance, even though there's no minimum market capitalization requirement, there is a three-month average daily trading volume limit of 200,000 shares. This is a way of ensuring that the components of the Nasdaq 100 are liquid and aren't liable to move up or down by big amounts just because someone, somewhere, bought or sold 500 shares of stock.
Additionally, closed-end funds, limited partnerships or liabilities, and exchange-traded funds aren't eligible for inclusion in the Nasdaq 100.
In order to maintain listing status, a security has to avoid being in bankruptcy, and it must maintain "a market capitalization equal to or exceeding 0.1% of the aggregate adjusted market capitalization of the Index at each month-end." In other words, this ensures a company whose share price falls 90% for whatever rhyme or reason isn't left in the Index until the next rebalancing, but is instead removed after two months of not meeting continued listing guidelines.
3. The Index is weighted based on market capitalization.
Because the Nasdaq is comprised of companies of all sizes and share prices, the Nasdaq 100 is a weighted index. What this means is that larger companies are going to have more effect on moving the value of the Nasdaq 100 than smaller companies.
Technology behemoth Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), for example, is a $752 billion company, according to Monday's closing price. Garmin (NASDAQ: GRMN), which sports an $8.7 billion market value and is best known for its GPS devices for vehicles and boats, is also a Nasdaq 100 component. Currently, Apple makes up close to 15% of the weight of the Index (a measure of just how far ahead of all other companies Apple is in terms of market value). By comparison, Garmin's weighting is less than 0.2%.
Long story short, this means mega-cap names such as Apple hold a lot of weight within the index. In fact, on Feb. 15, 2015, the 10 largest securities by weight represented 47.75% of the value of the Index.
4. You won't find a number of sectors represented in this Index.
The Nasdaq 100 is generally a very technology-heavy Index, and you'll find quite a few sectors absent.
If you're looking to get exposure to the utilities industry, or perhaps our nation's vast energy market via oil and gas companies, this isn't the index for you. There isn't a single company from any of those sectors represented in the Nasdaq 100. Likewise, this Index doesn't include financial stocks, including asset management companies.
Instead, 53.6% of the Index is comprised of technology companies, with consumer services and healthcare making up another 23.6% and 14.3%, respectively. These are generally high-growth sectors that are somewhat cyclical. For investors, it means the Nasdaq 100 is liable to outperform during a bull market (which is exactly what we've seen), while it could underperform in a declining market, just as many of its components did during the dot-com bubble.
The takeaway, here, is that investors in the PowerShares QQQ ETF should be expecting above-average volatility.
5. The Nasdaq 100 has been fundamentally growing like wildfire since 2003.
Lastly, and building off the prior point, the Nasdaq 100 is growing like wildfire -- and in more ways than you'd think.
Between 2003 and 2014, the Nasdaq 100 grew its cumulative EPS by an average of 26% per year, while revenue jumped by an average of 13% per year. All the while, the average P/E, which we'd expect to be higher for an Index filled with growth companies, fell by 15%.
Perhaps most impressively, the average yield of the Index has risen by 33% per year for the past 11 years. After paying just $2.20 in aggregate dividends in 2003, components of the Index paid an aggregate of $50.79 in dividends last year, which equated to a 1.1% yield.
If you're looking for a way to gain exposure to some of the market's largest companies and their game-changing technologies, services, and drugs, then perhaps it's time you considered taking a closer look at the Nasdaq 100 Index.
Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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