In a couple of weeks, final second quarter EPS for the S&P 500 will confirm the fastest recovery ever from a recession-related earnings decline. That’s old news, and before it has even hit the tape. But we’ve had a sneak peak from the monthly, 12-month trailing EPS numbers published by MSCI for its USA Large Cap Index. Those figures showed that EPS exceeded their pre-COVID peak in May, and the latest reading (through August) is already 22% above the prior high! Simple trendline analysis suggests that EPS for U.S. Large Caps are likely higher today than they would have been in the absence of the COVID pandemic and hyper-stimulative response.
Under the surface of today's stock-market turbulence is an increasingly solid undertow of stock market support. Maybe it won’t be enough to ward off the pressures, but a foundation does seem to be forming in favor of another leg up for this bull market.
Quant researchers widely agree that Value offers a return premium over time (although not recently) and that High Quality also offers excess returns. The Quality angle seems contrary to intuition, in that investors generally prefer Quality companies and are willing to pay up for them, yet Quality regularly outperforms. Value and Quality are both well-respected investment factors, and we were curious to explore the interaction of these two smart beta stalwarts. Is Value enhanced by adding a layer of Quality, thereby avoiding value traps, or are Value investors better off buying junky, unattractive companies that have the most room to rebound from depressed prices?
August CPI numbers fell short of expectations with the m/m figures looking surprisingly normal.
The 10-year breakeven rate is four months removed from its high and in a very tight range.
The headline CPI has outstripped median wage gains for the last five months.
Everyone fears the Taper. Fed members constantly remind us that it’s coming soon, the financial media frequently preview the taper’s potential ugly market fallout, and a parade of Wall Street firms are warning that stocks will almost assuredly suffer at least some sort of taper tantrum.Read more
The impact of U.S. stock-market “hegemony” extends far beyond currency markets. We believe the mania has progressed to the point where the stock market itself will shape the intermediate-term and even long-term fortunes of the U.S. economy more than it ever has before.Read more
If there are shortages, bottlenecks, and commodity inflation everywhere, why is the rating for the Materials sector so uninspiring? Although valuations are compelling for Materials groups, the overall decline in the rankings can be traced to EPS revisions and macro influences, like the U.S. dollar and low rates.Read more
We take a look at how the market rewards different uses for cash and what drives management decisions about the use of cash over time. The focus here is on the three main cash applications: investment (Capex and R&D), return of cash (via buybacks and dividends), and M&A spending.Read more
Since the pandemic, economic policy has become an obsession for most investors. The thickness of former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan’s briefcase seems pedestrian today. When fiscal and monetary authorities began adopting highly unconventional methodologies after the 2008 financial crisis (e.g., Tarp, Cash for Clunkers, and QE), the mantra on Wall Street became WWPOD (What Will Policy Officials Do?).
Small-cap stocks had a ferocious leadership run beginning last October when vaccinations were at hand—and hope surged that the COVID pandemic was finally ending. As economic activities restarted, the Russell 2000 outpaced the S&P 500 by nearly 33% between September and mid-March.Read more
Read this week's Major Trend.Read more
In recent weeks, the news surrounding the stock market has turned much more challenging. Most economic reports have come in below expectations, taper-talk swirls about the Federal Reserve, and company earnings reports—while mostly still robust—no longer seem to boost stock prices. In addition, the U.S. exit from Afghanistan has been disturbing, supply shortages and inflation evidence are rampant, and, most importantly, the escalating spread of the Delta variant is dampening economic activities.Read more
Hiker #1: Can you run faster than that hungry bear looking at us?
Hiker #2: I don’t need to run faster than the bear, I just need to run faster than you.
The Momentum style of investing has a long history of generating excess returns, and ranks near the top of the list of essential smart beta factors. However, Momentum also has a dark side; it is prone to severe drawdowns whenever the market makes a significant reversal.Read more
The weakness in Value* over the last few months has gotten a lot of attention (Chart 1). While we are still on board with the “Value trade” in general, a subtle but distinct change within the theme has emerged. There is a clear bid for Quality, which had not happened in the massive post-Covid junk rally until recently.Read more
This year, investors, policy officials, and the financial media have been obsessed with when the Federal Reserve will finally start tapering its quantitative easing (QE) program. And perhaps more importantly, is it possible to curtail QE without triggering a temper tantrum in the stock and bond markets?Read more
Last Friday, the University of Michigan reported its Consumer Sentiment Index suffered a shocking collapse. It fell by 11 points, which is the sixth-largest monthly decline since its inception in January 1998. Amazingly, as shown in Chart 1, it deteriorated to a weaker level than April 2020—right after the U.S.-onset of the COVID crisis that essentially shut down the entire economy. Moreover, the Sentiment Index now resides at one of its most pessimistic levels of the last 23 years. Only during the Great Financial Crisis was consumer sentiment shaken noticeably more than today.Read more
Normally, volatility is feared. It’s a lesson learned early by investors. Experiences like the 1987 crash, the 2008-09 financial crisis, and the 2020 pandemic serve to educate investors. Strive for more return but only while being ever vigilant about risks (volatility). Move that risk/return profile as far as you can to the northwest investment quadrant!Read more
Pundits could reasonably argue the market has never been more expensive in light of the prevailing rate of inflation. That’s the conclusion of the “Rule of Twenty,” which proposes that the stock market’s P/E ratio and the trailing 12-month Consumer Price Inflation rate should sum up to 20.Read more
The gap between YOY growth rates in M2 and nominal GDP just flipped negative after four quarters of record-high readings. In other words, the recovering economy is now drinking from a punch bowl that the stock market once had all to itself. Similar drinking binges occurred in 2010 and 2018, both of which then experienced corrections north of 15%.Read more