"Definitely this is a stock picker's market," he said. "The index does offer safety up and down. Obviously you can do a lot better."
The S&P 500 hit an all-time intraday high Monday, led by gains in tech stocks. The last intraday high of 2,134.72 was touched May 20, 2015, and the last closing high was set the next day at 2,130.82. The bull market celebrated its seventh birthday in March and is the second-longest in history.
"Typically as you get toward the later innings, … leadership starts to narrow," said Daniel Deming, managing director at asset management firm KKM Financial.
In the Dow Jones industrial average, 16 of the 30 component stocks are up at least 10 percent between its closing high of 18,312.39 set May 19, 2015, and Friday, according to Silverblatt. McDonald's is the only Dow component up more than 20 percent over that time, while Goldman Sachs, Apple and American Express are the worst performers with losses of more than 20 percent each in that period.
The sharp divergence in performance shows that being in the right sectors is increasingly important, especially as the broader market swings with global news.
"As long as the U.S. economy doesn't show some great risk here, I think you'll see rotation in different issues as people deal with different economic concerns as the market grinds higher," said David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Funds.