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Apple Inc. and Google Inc. were dragging down the S&P 500 on Monday – and Bespoke Investment Group noticed another key laggard: Priceline.com Inc. What do these three stocks have in common? For one thing, they are very expensive in terms of their actual share prices.

Bespoke looked at all the stocks within the Russell 3000 index whose share prices are $200 (U.S.) or more (surprisingly, there are 19 of them), and found that the richest three have suffered the biggest declines over the past five days. Apple and Priceline.com have fallen 7.7 per cent each over this period, while Google has fallen 4.4 per cent.

But there's more than three-digit prices weighing on these stocks, which makes sense given that actual share prices have nothing whatever to do with valuation. Instead, in the case of Apple and Priceline, the weight seems to be coming from recent share price gains – and a somewhat parabolic shape to their respective share price charts. Apple has risen 45 per cent this year, even after factoring in the recent setback. Priceline.com has risen 50 per cent.

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"Apple and Priceline.com have been market darlings for months now, but their uptrends are now broken and they're struggling to find support," Bespoke said on its blog. "Investors have become accustomed to seeing these winners do well, so a breakdown in their shares like we've seen recently certainly has a negative impact on investor psyche."

Meanwhile, Google is likely struggling with other issues. When it reported its quarterly results last week, it also announced a controversial share price split, which effectively allows the company's founders to maintain control over the company by introducing a class of shares that carry no votes.

None of this is good news for the S&P 500, of course – particularly in the case of Apple. It has grown into the world's largest company based on its market capitalization (it was recently worth more than $600-billion), making it the weightiest stock within the benchmark index. That's good going up, but it hurts on the way down.

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About the Author
Investing Reporter

David Berman has been writing about business and investing since 1995. He has written for a number of magazines, including Canadian Business and MoneySense. He worked at the Financial Post as an investing writer and daily columnist before moving to the Globe and Mail in 2008. More

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