Nasdaq, Comstock Added to Key S&P Indexes

by: IndexUniverse

The S&P 500 is set to add another exchange to its blue chip index. After the close of trading on Tuesday, the NASDAQ OMX Group Inc. (NASDAQ:NDAQ) will replace department store chain Dillard's Inc. (NYSE:DDS), which has occupied the blue chip benchmark's last spot.

The shift follows the addition of Comstock Resources Inc. (NYSE:CRK), an oil and natural gas producer, to the S&P MidCap 400 index. It replaced Entercom Communications Corp. (NYSE:ETM), a radio broadcaster that was listed as the benchmark's 400th largest company based on market-cap size when the move was made last week.

Also, the S&P SmallCap 600 index has made two changes within the past week. One of those involved replacing wireless tech provider EMS Technologies (NASDAQ:ELMG) with Radio One Inc. (NASDAQ:ROIA)  At the same time, Integral Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:ISYS) was added and Fleetwood Enterprises (FLE), which makes recreational vehicles, fell out of the benchmark.

This has been a relatively active few months for the S&P 500. Since June alone, some 23 companies have been deleted, starting with the now defunct Bear Stearns on June 2. Most have been financials hit hard by the global credit crisis, including Lehman Brothers (deleted on Sept. 16) and Washington Mutual on Sept. 29.

Among recent additions is Invesco, the parent of exchange-traded funds giant PowerShares. Another player in the ETF marketplace, Bank of New York Mellon, joined the S&P 500 in May.

The addition of the NASDAQ is the first new exchange in the index since the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (NASDAQ:CME) became part of the S&P 600 last August. Other exchanges in the S&P 500 are the NYSE (NYSE:NYX) and the Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE:ICE). 

The NASDAQ certainly has been on an aggressive expansion path, particularly in ETFs. In the wake of the merger by what has been the industry's largest exchange, the American Stock Exchange, with the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq has had a flurry of new offerings with its own ETF platform.

The NASDAQ has also been remaking itself from a domestic stock-focused exchange into a global provider. According to the company, its net revenues have shot up more than 200% in the past three years. Since going public three years ago, the Nasdaq's market cap has soared from around $700 million to top $6 billion.

Separately on Tuesday, Standard & Poor's lowered its expectations for 2008 dividend payment levels for the S&P 500 from $28.85 to $28.05.

The lowered estimate still represents a 1.2% increase in S&P 500 dividend payments from the $27.73 posted in 2007,and translates into a $244.7 billion aggregate payment for the S&P 500 companies for 2008.

"The 1.2% expected increase in S&P 500 dividend payments for 2008 will be the lowest growth rate since 2001 when payments were down 3.3%," said Howard Silverblatt, S&P's senior index analyst, in a statement.

"The growth ratef or dividends was negatively impacted by financials. Year-to-date, there have been 35 dividend cuts by financial issues with an aggregate decrease of $31 billion compared to just 12 cuts over the past five years reducing dividends by $3.1 billion."