Tech has been a bright spot in a volatile market this year. The Nasdaq Composite is up more than 16% so far this year, beating the S & P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which has risen nearly 9% and over 3%, respectively. Tech stocks also make up much of the S & P 500, with the information technology sector forming 25.6% of the index, according to FactSet. That includes subsectors ranging from software and hardware, to semiconductor firms. “The leaders this year are definitely Apple and Microsoft ,” Louis Navellier, chairman at Navellier & Associates, told CNBC’s ” Street Signs Asia ” on Wednesday. “They are now the highest weightings ever in the S & P 500.” But he argued that the “real leader” is actually U.S. chipmaker Nvidia . “I would respectfully argue that probably Nvidia is the real market leader just because of all the [artificial intelligence] buzz and its role behind AI,” Navellier said. There’s been a lot of buzz around AI this year — and what it could mean for companies like Nvidia. Analysts have been very bullish about Nvidia being one of the biggest beneficiaries of AI. The firm dominates roughly 80% of the market for graphics processing units, or GPUs, which are used to speed up AI processes. Navellier said the fact of the matter is that Nvidia is a “monopoly.” “It dominates graphics chips, it dominates AI chips,” he said, adding that Nvidia makes the “best” self-driving systems. Nvidia shares have already soared around 90% in the year to date. “I don’t want to pay a big premium for growth, but Nvidia would be the rare exception,” Navellier said. Despite the huge jump in the stock this year, analysts covering the stock gave it further average upside of 2.4% — and 72% of analysts gave it a “buy” rating. Other stock picks Apart from Nvidia, Navellier had three other stock picks with high expected earnings growth. One is AAON , a producer of heat pumps and air-conditioning equipment. Its earnings are forecast to rise 60.6%, according to Navellier. The second is Napco Security Technologies , which develops security systems. Its earnings are forecast to rise 137.5%. Finally, his third pick is Catalyst Pharmaceuticals , a biotech firm that Navellier said has “lucrative licensing agreements.” Its earnings are expected to rise 166.7%, he said.
The 'real leader' in the S&P 500 isn't Apple or Microsoft — it's this stock, analyst says