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Small Caps, Big Moves

While most casual investors focus on big blue chip stocks, there's a ton of action in small caps.  Standard & Poors tracks small caps via their S&P 600 Index, a companion to the S&P 500 Index (Large caps) and S&P 400 Index (Mid caps).  Small caps also regularly appear in our Bespoke 50 list of Bespoke's favorite growth names.  For more information on the Bespoke 50, check out our recent post or head over to Bespoke Premium.

Since 2014 kicked off, there have been some truly staggering moves in some of the names in the Russell 2000 Index, the broadest index of small cap names.  Below are two tables highlighting the biggest movers in the index, both to the upside and the downside.  Each table shows the ticker, name and industry for each company, price (as of yesterday's close), YTD return, distance from its 50-Day moving average (many traders view this measure as an indicator of how overbought or oversold a name is), a sparkline chart of the stock's performance this year, as well as market cap and volume information.

The biggest mover in percentage terms has been Intercept Pharma (ICPT), whose stock has been riding a massive kick from positive drug trial news in early January.  Other biotech stocks feature heavily in the list of biggest gainers, and are 7 of the top 8 biggest moves to the upside.

Other small cap names have not performed so well.  The table below shows the biggest losers YTD from the Russell 2000.  The range of sectors represented is much wider than the Biotech-heavy gainers list, although retail in the form of online, apparel, and electronics seems to be a standout sector for its lack of performance.  Fairway, the Northeast grocery store chain, has really gotten crushed: shares are trading for less than half of what they were at New Year's.

If you're interested in small caps, be careful.  The huge swings in price illustrated above, small market caps and sometimes tiny volumes are all indications that these names can be risky.  If you're looking for a starting point for investing in smaller cap stocks, check out the Bespoke 50, and remember that any list of big moves or favorite stocks should always be a starting point for further research before investing.