CHATTANOOGA, Tenn – Whatever your approach to the markets, whether you adopt fundamental analysis, technical analysis or some other methodology, everyone who participates is always looking for an edge to determine which are the best stocks to buy for December. Historically, this has led to some unusual tactics. Among them, the Santa Claus rally is one of the strangest, yet it’s also discussed in the mainstream.
Recently, CNBC issued a report suggesting that the “large gains in November may steal from December’s rally.” And there’s a good reason for caution, with the S&P 500 up more than 11% at the time of the write-up’s publication. According to Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA, “If it’s up more than 10%, it will only be the third time since World War II that November has been up that much.”
Of course, nobody wants to hold the bag, even with names that are considered the best stocks to buy for December. Therefore, the Santa Claus rally may not be as robust this year. But what exactly is this phenomenon?
Generally speaking, the Santa Claus rally is the supposed tendency of equities to rise during the last week of the year up through the early sessions of the new year. For our purposes, I will take the traditional definition: the profit (or loss) of a particular index or security from the session after Christmas through the second trading day of the following year.
Utilizing this framework for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the phenomenon may have some valid basis. However, you may be surprised to learn that the Santa Claus rally has been more profitable in decades past. As the market entered the modern era, average returns have declined. Additionally, in the last decade, buying the Santa rally has resulted in slight losses. So, does this mean this methodology is ineffective for finding the best stocks to buy?
Here’s my take on it – I wouldn’t buy something just because of the Santa Claus rally. More importantly, individual stocks respond differently to this phenomenon than benchmark indices. Still, the rally is an intriguing concept. Here are some of the best stocks to buy for December on this fascinating holiday trend.