Earlier this week, we ran a deep analysis of buy, sell, and hold ratings for the stocks in the S&P 500. In the report we identified the most loved and hated stocks in the index, along with names that may be good contrarian plays due to excessive bullishness or bearishness. Below is a condensed version of a larger summary table provided in the report focusing on analyst sentiment by sector. As shown, there are currently 11,732 analyst ratings for S&P 500 stocks, which equates to 23.5 analyst ratings per stock in the index. Talk about excessive.
The sector with the most analyst coverage is Technology at 29.1 analyst ratings per stock, but Energy is not far behind at 29.0. The Utilities and Materials sectors are the least covered by analysts at 18.5 and 18.8, respectively. So which sectors are analysts most bullish on at the moment? Given the fact that 50.4% of all ratings in the S&P 500 are Buy ratings, Energy is the biggest bullish standout with 61.2% Buy ratings. Four other sectors have a higher percentage of Buy ratings than the overall S&P 500 -- Consumer Discretionary, Healthcare, Industrials, and Technology. Analysts are least bullish on Utilities with 33.9% Buy ratings. Consumer Staples, Financials, Materials and Telecom are the four other sectors with a lower percentage of Buy ratings than the S&P 500 as a whole.
On the far right of the table you'll see the year-to-date change in the percentage of Buy ratings for the S&P 500 and its 10 sectors. For the S&P 500, Buy ratings have dropped by 1.5 percentage points, which means analysts have gotten less bullish on stocks this year even though the average stock in the index is up significantly at 19.73%. The Materials sector has seen the biggest drop in Buy ratings at -3.9 percentage points, followed by Financials at -2.4 and then Telecom, Healthcare and Industrials all at -1.8. The Utilities sector has actually seen a small uptick in Buy ratings at +0.1 percentage points, while the two Consumer sectors have seen a very minor downtick.