Software stocks have pretty much owned the stock market since spring. Among 33 sectors, software started the year near the middle of the pack. In April, the software sector advanced to No. 1.


The No. 1 ranking didn’t change until recently. Software slipped to third place while medical and consumer took the top two spots.

This will be something worth watching in the weeks ahead.

Six software stocks recently made the Sector Leaders screen. How are they doing?

Publishing software provider Adobe Systems (ADBE) has been a durable performer in Sector Leaders. In the past 19 months or so, the stock has delivered three breakouts. The overall gain from the first breakout in January 2017 to an apparent peak in late July is about 135%.

Research shows that the average life span for a market leader’s uptrend is 18 to 24 months.

Investors don’t have to worry about the life span of Palo Alto Networks (PANW). The stock didn’t leave choppy action behind until a breakout early in 2018. Palo Alto is up about 35% from its 156.95 buy point.

Paycom Software (PAYC) began its ascent after clearing an awkward consolidation in February 2017. The buy point was 53.03. Paycom added three additional breakouts since. The overall gain is roughly 150%.

The potential negative is that Paycom has been rising for about 18 months. Like Adobe, this raises questions about its life span. (CRM) cleared a long consolidation in April 2017. Since then, it has formed and cleared four additional patterns. From the original 84.50 buy point, Salesforce gained about 75% by late July. The run-up is about 15 months old.

Still Young

Fortinet (FTNT) didn’t start advancing out of a consolidation until late November. The stock’s run-up is only about eight months old and involved a roughly 80% overall gain. Fortinet hasn’t formed an additional base since the late November breakout.

China-based Baozun (BZUN) cleared a consolidation in May 2017 and by mid-June had risen 260%. After the initial breakout, Baozun added three bases including the current one. Overall, the stock’s run-up is about 15 months long.

The age of most of these software stocks is a concern. Add the recent slip from the top spot, and investors have something to follow closely.