Stocks in the US market are increasingly following the herd, and it's created a huge dilemma for investors who prove their bonafides picking single companies.

Goldman Sachs finds that stock correlations within the benchmark S&P 500 have surged into the 95th percentile since 1980. In addition, average three-month correlations have spiked by 43 percentage points since January, which is the fastest and biggest increase since the 1987 market crash.

To put it in the simplest terms, this indicates that the US equity market is currently mired in a traffic jam where almost everyone is stuck moving in the same direction. When a broad move transpires, this makes it exceedingly difficult to generate returns, simply because there are so few single outliers. Stock-pickers loathe this correlation for these reasons.

Goldman Sachs

So how did we get here? For one, the rapid rise of exchange-traded funds and passive investing has resulted in traders buying and selling large swaths of the market at once, leaving little room for single-stock fluctuations. Goldman also notes that large pullbacks in stocks have been largely driven by valuation concerns, rather than individual company earnings.

The firm knows it's become a difficult environment, and it's here to help. Chief US equity strategist David Kostin has calculated a so-called "dispersion score" for each S&P 500 company, for which he factors in (1) the proportion of returns driven by company-specific factors and (2) Goldman's forecast of the volatility associated with the proportion of return attributable to those micro factors.

"Stocks with high dispersion scores are more likely to have heightened responses to idiosyncratic news and present the best alpha generation opportunities," Kostin wrote in a recent client note.

Goldman then takes its analysis a step further and identifies the companies within the high-dispersion universe that have the biggest upside to the firm's price target.

Without further ado, here are the 14 high-dispersion stocks, arranged in increasing order of which ones have the biggest upside to current trading levels:

Source :

The market is stuck in a traffic jam — so Goldman Sachs has picked 14 stocks set to break the gridlock by exploding higher
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