Australia's big four banks ... among the top 10 movers on the S&P/ASX200 in the past year. Photo: Bloomberg
Ninety per cent of the growth on Australia's share market over the past 12 months has come from just a handful of firms, including the big four banks.
The S&P/ASX200 has risen by 14.9 per cent — or 643.85 points — since April 10, 2012, on the back of a global search for yield that has attracted local and international investors to the Australian market, analysts said.
For someone who is a tax-paying investor, 5 per cent fully franked is a reasonable return on the assumption that the capital position of the investment they are going into remains reasonably solid
Commonwealth Bank has been the leading mover on the S&P/ASX200, lifting by $17.23 to $67.30 over the past year.
Market rallies ... the top movers on the S&P/ASX200.
Westpac is second with $8.85 growth in its stocks, while the NAB and ANZ are fourth and fifth respectively. Telstra came in third, adding $1.18 to its share price.
Noticeably absent are the miners — in particular, BHP Billiton and Rio — which used to be part of the top 10 leading movers during previous rallies on the Australian share market, such as between 2003 and 2007, and in 2009.
The two mining giants are instead among the biggest drags on the market.
Commonwealth Bank is now the 10th biggest bank in the world by market capitalisation and perhaps as a sign of the times, recently overtook BHP Billiton as the biggest single component on the S&P/ASX200**.
"One of the big things has been the search for yield," UBS' head of strategy David Cassidy said.
"That has been the primary driver and that's what has driven the banks. Commodity prices looked to have peaked and that's been an issue for the resources sector for the last 12 months. They've also had problems with cost blow-outs and production disappointments.
"They have been the two ends of the story performance-wise."
Patersons Securities' economist Tony Farnham said any changes to the drivers of the S&P/ASX200's current rally would depend on whether other investment alternatives surface.
"For someone who is a tax-paying investor, 5 per cent fully franked is a reasonable return on the assumption that the capital position of the investment they are going into, for example, the Commonwealth Bank, remains reasonably solid."
Mr Farnham added that offshore investors were attracted by the higher yields in Australia, as this was missing from much of the global market. International investors also wanted liquid assets.
"The top 10 Australian stocks fit that bill pretty well," he said.
Despite the recent poor performances by the mining sector on the stock market, some analysts have tipped the industry as a growth prospect in the second half of this year.
Mining shares were trading cheaper than the rest of the S&P/ASX200 as measured by the earnings-per-share estimates at 11.3 times forward EPS, a 30 per cent discount to the industries sector, Goldman Sachs analysts Matthew Ross, Alistaire Paterson and Alain LeBel wrote in a report.
But the analysts said relative to long-run multiples, metals and mining stocks were attractive.
"While we remain concerned about the short-term momentum in the sector, we have taken the opportunity to review the long-run performance, earnings and valuation trends given the relative value that has emerged over recent months," the analysts wrote, adding that they had recently downgraded the sector from overweight to neutral.
"Despite the sector's poor momentum at the time, we were hesitant to move underweight given the valuation support on offer."
Goldman Sachs increased its ownership of NRW Holdings, a mining contractor, to 5.04 per cent — just above 14 million shares, the financial services company said in a statement to the ASX on Tuesday.
"That shows to me they are advising clients that they have faith in the sector," said Rohan Schmidt, a senior portfolio manager at Leyland Private Asset Management.
"The point is: it's going to be a bit volatile in the short term, but in the second half of the year, I agree that we are looking for a rebound in the mining sector. Those buying mining stocks at the moment will be well rewarded later this year."
**BHP Billiton's market capitalisation — the dollar value of a company's shares — is currently $168 billion, while Commonwealth Bank's is $108 billion.