Pro Analysis

Lean companies with fewer employees are beating the market as wages rise

A technician works on paperwork at Raymond Chevrolet in Antioch, Illinois.
John Gress | Corbis | Getty Images
A technician works on paperwork at Raymond Chevrolet in Antioch, Illinois.

As wage inflation numbers begin to go higher Fundstrat's Tom Lee found the market is already discounting rising employee paychecks in stock prices. The firm told investors which stocks will likely benefit or suffer the most if wages continue to go up.

"Wage inflation sensitivity [is] beginning to impact stocks," strategist Lee wrote in a note to clients Friday.

"Stocks with low wage sensitivity outperformed 1,590 bp [basis points] since May."

Fundstrat's wage sensitivity methodology is to rank companies by the market value per employee ratio. Lee cited how since wage indicator statistics such as the employment cost index and average hourly earnings ticked higher in May, the top 50 stocks with low "wage inflation" sensitivity traded up 13.5 percent, while the bottom 50 fell 2.4 percent during the same time period.

Here are the stocks with the least and most sensitivity to wage inflation, according to the firm. Investors may want to buy and avoid these companies accordingly.