With Tech Oligarchy Shaken, Active Funds Are Having a Great Time

Turmoil in megacaps like Apple Inc. is stirring investor anxiety. But for professional stock pickers, it’s mostly good news when the market’s biggest companies loosen their grip.

Since the start of the year, 57% of large-cap mutual funds have beaten their benchmarks, marking the industry’s best start to a year in almost a decade, data compiled by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. show. A key driver is the easing dominance of mega-companies that funds chronically own too little of.

Now, hope for an economic rebound is breathing life into everything from small caps to once-ignored stocks such as energy, expanding the pool of winners. The Russell 2000 is poised to beat the Nasdaq 100 for a sixth straight month while a version of the S&P 500 that strips out market-value bias is up 6.6% this year, twice as much as the cap-weighted gauge.

“As the market is seeing more leadership arrive from stocks that are lower in the market-cap spectrum, that ability to pick stocks is going to add value,” said Matt Miskin, co-chief investment strategist at John Hancock Investment Management. “It really comes back to active managers finally having their day in the sun.”