Dow vs. Money Market Since Last Dow Peak

by: Barry Ritholtz

On Wednesday, we looked at the breakdown of Dow components and were surprised to discover that only 10 of the 30 Dow components were above their 2006 highs. Four stocks -- Boeing, United Tech, Caterpillar and Altria -- were the primary drivers, pulling the Dow higher despite the drag of so many other relatively weak components.

15 of the 20 Dow stocks still below their prior highs are down substantially, with GM and Intel off ~60%, and Microsoft still down by 51%, and Home Depot and Merck off ~ 40%.

But before we get too excited about the new highs on a closing basis -- perhaps even today? -- perhaps we should look at the actual real performance of the Dow.

Consider what happened if you actually held these 30 stocks (individual issues or through the Diamonds) since January 2000: After 6 1/2 years, you are now almost breakeven on a nominal basis. If you reinvested the dividends from the Dow, you would be up 12.7%.

On a real basis, adjusted for inflation, you are actually down 19%; With reinvested dividends, you are down around 9%.

If you were lucky enough to sell back in January 2000, and you instead simply placed the money in a cash fund (money market), you would be up ~20.87% on a nominal basis; On a real basis, you are up just under 2%.

So while everyone on TV is celebrating the new highs, I can't help but think: "Yeah! We only underperformed cash by 818 basis points! Yeah!"

Dow Industrials and Fidelity Money Market Fund

That's on a real or a nominal basis.