The Super Bowl Rule: Will Buccaneers’ win signal in fresh surge in US stocks?

Russ Mould
8 February 2021

“Gamblers who sided with the favoured Kansas City Chiefs will have lost their money as the defending champions lost the fifty-fifth Super Bowl to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their quarterback Tom Brady, the most successful player in the National Football League’s history. But stock market investors may be pleased to see Brady grab an unprecedented seventh league title, at least if the old ‘Super Bowl’ rule has anything to do with it,” says Russ Mould, AJ Bell Investment Director.

“As a result of the merger between two rival leagues in the 1960s, the National Football League is split into two conferences, National (NFC) and American (AFC), whose winners meet in the Super Bowl to decide the overall champion.

“The US stock market, as benchmarked by the S&P 500 index, has, on average, performed better in years when the team from the NFC has won and less well when the team from the AFC has claimed the Super Bowl and the players have won their championship rings.

Winning side from

Number of wins

Average return from S&P 500

NFC

27

10.5%

AFC

27

6.9%

Source: NFL, Refinitiv data. First Super Bowl played in January 1967. Average returns based on calendar year of each game.

“This effect has become a little less pronounced over time but it is noticeable nonetheless, so investors who own US shares will be hoping that a little of the shine from the 31-9 victory for the Buccaneers, who hail from the NFC, rubs off on the American stock market this year.

 

Average S&P 500 calendar year performance

 

NFC

AFC

After 10 years (1967-1976)

14.5%

0.4%

After 20 years (1967-1986)

14.7%

1.8%

After 30 years (1967-1996)

13.5%

1.8%

After 40 years (1967-2006)

13.8%

3.0%

After 50 years (1967-2016)

11.1%

5.1%

After 54 years (1967-2020)

10.5%

6.9%

Source: NFL, Refinitiv data. First Super Bowl played in January 1967. Average returns based on calendar year of each game.

“After the early dominance of the National Football League’s (now NFC’s) Green Bay Packers, the 1970s saw the AFC’s Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders rule the roost, with only the NFC’s Dallas Cowboys getting in the way. Yet from an economic perspective, those teams ruled the field after an oil price shock, galloping inflation and soaring interest rates made the 1970s difficult years for investors.

“Come the 1980s, the Paul Volcker-led Federal Reserve had begun to tame inflation and cut interest rates, while Reaganomics were helping to drag America out of its post-Vietnam funk. As it happened, the NFC dominated that decade, as Washington, San Francisco and the York Giants bagged multiple Vince Lombardi Trophies.

“Dallas and Green Bay established fresh dynasties in the 1990s, when benign inflation, low interest rates, globalisation, the Greenspan put and the rise of technology stocks gave US equities a further boost – although the AFC got its slice of the action as the Denver Broncos, under quarterback John Elway, ended a rotten run of three Super Bowl defeats to win back-to-back titles as the technology bubble inflated in 1998 and 1999.

“AFC teams, in the form of the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots (for Tom Brady’s first win), then copped the downdraft as the bubble burst and the S&P 500 plunged in 2001 and 2002, although in the was the NFC’s New York Giants who were kings of the NFL hill when the Great Financial Crisis struck in 2008. Since then, the Patriots, Broncos and Steelers have returned to the summit, giving the AFC a chance to shine as US equities have forged a long bull run and close up the historic stock market performance gap between the two conferences – but that gap is still large enough to keep watchers of the Super Bowl rule interested.”

Super Bowl

Year

Winner

Conference

S&P 500 change*

1

1967

Green Bay Packers

NFL*

20.1%

2

1968

Green Bay Packers

NFL*

7.7%

3

1969

New York Jets

AFL**

(11.4%)

4

1970

Kansas City Chiefs

AFL**

0.1%

5

1971

Baltimore Colts

AFC

10.8%

6

1972

Dallas Cowboys

NFC

15.6%

7

1973

Miami Dolphins

AFC

(17.4%)

8

1974

Miami Dolphins

AFC

(29.7%)

9

1975

Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC

31.5%

10

1976

Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC

19.1%

11

1977

Oakland Raiders

AFC

(11.5%)

12

1978

Dallas Cowboys

NFC

1.1%

13

1979

Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC

12.3%

14

1980

Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC

25.8%

15

1981

Oakland Raiders

AFC

(9.7%)

16

1982

San Francisco 49ers

NFC

14.8%

17

1983

Washington Football Team

NFC

17.3%

18

1984

Los Angeles Raiders

AFC

1.4%

19

1985

San Francisco 49ers

NFC

26.3%

20

1986

Chicago Bears

NFC

14.6%

21

1987

New York Giants

NFC

2.0%

22

1988

Washington Football Team

NFC

12.4%

23

1989

San Francisco 49ers

NFC

27.3%

24

1990

San Francisco 49ers

NFC

(6.6%)

25

1991

New York Giants

NFC

26.3%

26

1992

Washington Football Team

NFC

4.5%

27

1993

Dallas Cowboys

NFC

7.1%

28

1994

Dallas Cowboys

NFC

(1.5%)

29

1995

San Francisco 49ers

NFC

34.1%

30

1996

Dallas Cowboys

NFC

20.3%

31

1997

Green Bay Packers

NFC

31.0%

32

1998

Denver Broncos

AFC

26.7%

33

1999

Denver Broncos

AFC

19.5%

34

2000

St Louis Rams

NFC

(10.1%)

35

2001

Baltimore Ravens

AFC

(13.0%)

36

2002

New England Patriots

AFC

(23.4%)

37

2003

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC

26.4%

38

2004

New England Patriots

AFC

9.0%

39

2005

New England Patriots

AFC

3.0%

40

2006

Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC

13.6%

41

2007

Indianapolis Colts

AFC

3.5%

42

2008

New York Giants

NFC

(38.5%)

43

2009

Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC

23.5%

44

2010

New Orleans Saints

NFC

12.8%

45

2011

Green Bay Packers

NFC

(0.0%)

46

2012

New York Giants

NFC

13.4%

47

2013

Baltimore Ravens

AFC

29.6%

48

2014

Seattle Seahawks

NFC

11.4%

49

2015

New England Patriots

AFC

(0.7%)

50

2016

Denver Broncos

AFC

9.5%

51

2017

New England Patriots

AFC

19.4%

52

2018

Philadelphia Eagles

NFC

(6.2%)

53

2019

New England Patriots

AFC

28.9%

54

2020

Kansas City Chiefs

AFC

16.3%

55

2021

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC

 

Source: NFL, Refinitiv data. *Packers’ wins as part of the pre-1967 National Football League classified as National Football Conference (NFC). **Jets’ and Chiefs’ wins as part of the pre-1967 American Football League (AFL) classified as American Football Conference (AFC).

Russ Mould
Investment Director

Russ Mould’s long experience of the capital markets began in 1991 when he became a Fund Manager at a leading provider of life insurance, pensions and asset management services. In 1993 he joined a prestigious investment bank, working as an Equity Analyst covering the technology sector for 12 years. Russ eventually joined Shares magazine in November 2005 as Technology Correspondent and became Editor of the magazine in July 2008. Following the acquisition of Shares' parent company, MSM Media, by AJ Bell Group, he was appointed as AJ Bell’s Investment Director in summer 2013.

Contact details

Mobile: 07710 356 331
Email: russ.mould@ajbell.co.uk

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