The changing face of innovation

How investment in research and development drives technological innovation

Ask just about any investor about innovation, and the first word that comes to their mind will likely be “technology.” While sector-specific technology companies have obviously played a central role, the evolution of technological solutions across all industries means that innovation has truly become ubiquitous in investors’ everyday lives. Consider the auto industry: Today’s average car has more computing power than the first space shuttle did. Or look at medicine: Biotechnology and other health care companies increasingly rely on bioinformatics, as tremendous strides have been made in gene mapping and analysis to promote more efficient diagnoses and treatments of disease. Supply chain management has also welcomed technological improvements, from the use of automation and robotics in warehouses to ensuring greater transparency across the delivery cycle.

In short, we have all watched innovation and ingenuity play out across industries, rather than solely within a singular technological ecosystem, with dramatic effects on the ways we live, work, and play. Investors have recognized the enormous role of technology and the way it has fundamentally changed our daily lives. Accordingly, many investors are now looking to the stock market to invest in this kind of transformative innovation — but how can they quantify just how innovative a company is?

Research and development: A demonstrated measure of innovation

One way to measure innovation (and the ability to innovate) is a company’s commitment to consistently reinvesting in research and development. The chart below compares the total dollars invested in research and development, as well as the reinvestment rate measured as a percent of total sales over the past three years for the NASDAQ-100 (the 100 largest non-financial companies that trade on the NASDAQ), the S&P 500, and the Russell 1000 Growth indexes. From 2017 through 2019 the constituents of the NASDAQ-100 spent considerably more on research and development, both in terms of absolute dollars as well as when measured as a percent of sales (Exhibit 1). This discipline has paid off with the NASDAQ constituents generating considerably higher growth rates across revenue, earnings, and dividends relative to these other indexes over the past 10 years (Exhibit 2).

Exhibit 1: NASDAQ-100 Index research and development

Source: Bloomberg L.P., as of Sept. 30, 2020.  Most current data available. Average weighted R&D is a market cap weighted value R&D for each index while R&D Reinvestment Rate equals R&D divided by sales for a given year. An investor cannot invest directly in an index.

Exhibit 2: NASDAQ-100 Index robust fundamental growth

Source: Bloomberg L.P., Dec. 31, 2009, through March 31, 2020. Most current available data available. For illustration purposes only, An Investor cannot invest directly in an index

Similarly, the NASDAQ Next Generation 100 index (NGX), which is comprised of the largest 100 non-financial companies outside of the NASDAQ-100, also demonstrates a consistent commitment to research and development. Across the last 10 years, constituents within the NASDAQ Next Generation 100 Index consistently reinvested in research and development as a percent of revenue at a rate that was often a multiple of the rate of those constituents from other benchmark indexes including the S&P MidCap 400, the S&P MidCap 400 Growth, and the Russell Midcap Growth indexes (Exhibit 3).

 Exhibit 3: NASDAQ Next Generation 100 Index: Research & Development

Source: Bloomberg L.P., as of Sept. 30, 2020.  R&D expense as a percentage of revenue is calculated as R&D expense divided by revenue.  Most current data available. An investor cannot invest directly in an index. For illustrative purposes only

Through the years, this consistent commitment to R&D by the constituents of the NASDAQ Next Generation 100 Index has resulted in a number of companies that have grown to point of joining the NASDAQ-100 Index — companies such as Tesla Motors, Netflix, MercadoLibre, and DocuSign to name a few.1  As of the end of September, over one-third of the constituents of the NASDAQ-100 were at one point a member of the NASDAQ Next Generation 100 Index (Exhibit 4).

 Exhibit 4: NASDAQ Next Generation 100 Index: Names in the NASDAQ-100

Source: Nasdaq, as of Sept. 30, 2020. Holdings are subject to change and are not buy/sell recommendations.

A new way to access innovation

Through our partnership with NASDAQ, Invesco has redefined the way investors can access innovative companies with a commitment to research and development. Our new QQQ Innovation Suite offers access to the NASDAQ-100 and the NASDAQ Next Generation 100 indexes, both of which invest in some of the most innovative growth companies in the world (including market leaders such Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon, and emerging innovators such as Roku, Marvell Technology Group Ltd., and Garmin, Ltd.1) Once small entrepreneurial start-ups, these companies have continued to consistently and significantly invest in research and development — and in doing so have redefined themselves, their sectors, and the face of innovation itself.

Learn more about accessing innovation with the Invesco QQQ Innovation Suite.

1 As of Sept. 30, 2020, Invesco QQQ ETF held the following companies: Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (0.50%), Tesla Motors (3.45%), Netflix (1.90%), Electronic Arts (0.32%), Ulta (0.11%), Microchip Technology (0.22%), MercadoLibre (0.46%), VeriSign (0.20%), Splunk (0.26%), DocuSign (0.34%), Apple (13.39%), Microsoft (10.76%), Amazon (10.66%).

As of Oct. 13, 2020, Invesco NASDAQ Next Gen 100 ETF held the following companies: Roku (2.30%), Marvell Technology Group (2.67%), Garmin (1.71%).

Holdings are subject to change and are not buy/sell recommendations.

Important information

Header image: Klaus Vedfelt / Getty

The NASDAQ-100 Index includes 100 of the largest domestic and international non-financial securities listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market based on market capitalization. An investment cannot be made into an index.

The NASDAQ Next Generation 100 Index is comprised of securities of the next generation of Nasdaq-listed non-financial companies; that is, the largest 100 Nasdaq-listed companies outside of the NASDAQ-100 Index®.

The Russell 1000® Growth Index, a trademark/service mark of the Frank Russell Co.®, is an unmanaged index considered representative of large-cap growth stocks.

The S&P 500® Index is an unmanaged index considered representative of the US stock market.

The S&P MidCap 400® Index is an unmanaged index considered representative of mid-sized US companies.

The S&P MidCap 400® Growth Index is an unmanaged index considered representative of mid-sized US growth companies.

The Russell Midcap® Growth Index measures the performance of the mid-cap growth segment of the US equity universe.

John Feyerer is a Senior Director of Equity ETF Product Strategy for Invesco’s exchange-traded funds (ETFs). In this role, he oversees the development and application of strategies and tactics for product positioning and portfolio implementation. Mr. Feyerer and his team also develop research-related content designed to help clients better understand equity ETF strategies and their application in portfolios, with emphasis on factor investing and smart beta.

Mr. Feyerer joined Invesco in 2005. Prior to his current role, he led business operations for the ETF group and also served in a regional sales capacity. Before joining the firm, Mr. Feyerer served in a variety of operating, financial, and strategic roles over 14 years at the ServiceMaster Company based in suburban Chicago. Mr. Feyerer has been quoted in Barron’s, The Wall Street Journal, Investment News, and numerous trade publications, and is a regular speaker at industry conferences and events.

Mr. Feyerer earned BA and MA degrees in communications from Wheaton College and an MBA with a concentration in finance from the University of Oxford. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) charterholder and member of the CFA Society Chicago. He holds the Series 7, 24, and 63 registrations. Mr. Feyerer serves on the Associate Editor Board for The Journal of Index Investing.

More in Exchange-Traded Funds
Five reasons to consider investing in health care

When thinking about growth, many investors default to technology, noting companies like Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, and Facebook have changed the world by drastically altering how...

Close