Quality is one of the most popular and successful of the equity market’s quant factors. It is intuitively appealing and serves as a useful defensive strategy in falling markets. Low Volatility and Dividend Growth are also defensive factors, while Momentum and High Beta are viewed as aggressive or bullish factors. These offsetting behaviors would seem to make for excellent diversification opportunities in equity portfolios, and for the most part, that is true.
In 2018, the U.S. recovery was on a path toward recession. It couldn’t last much longer growing above 3% in real terms and 5.5% in nominal terms, with an unemployment rate below 4%. Wages, consumer, producer, and commodity prices were rising and the Federal Reserve (Fed) and bond vigilantes were tightening.Read more
The move off the late-December lows has been broad and powerful but not at all unusual for a countertrend move in a bear market. Since 1945, bear market rallies in the S&P 500 have lasted an average of six weeks and carried the index higher by an average of 10.8%.Read more
We wrote in the January Green Book that the S&P 500 Christmas Eve low did not have the “right look,” in that: (1) there had been no sign of “smart money” accumulation beforehand; and, (2) downside momentum was also at a new low for the entire correction. Smart money buying is measured by the Smart Money Flow Index, which evaluates trends in first half-hour market action (considered to be more emotional and news-driven), and the last hour of trading (viewed to be more informed and institutional in nature).Read more
Amongst the carnage and ongoing financial market volatility are a few encouraging signs the stock market may eventually regain its footing. As the pictures below illustrate, a proprietary U.S. economic momentum indicator suggests that recession fears may lessen by the spring, valuations have now fallen well below levels justified by bond yields, investor mindsets are quickly shifting away from overheat fears, and the U.S. dollar may finally be breaking down.Read more
In terms of long-term planning, corporate executives are often tasked with choosing between expanding their business or returning cash as a way to reward shareholders. In the quant world, the two decisions have a consequence on future stock returns.Read more
While investors obsess over the market level at which a hypothetical “Powell Put” might come into play (or whether such a put even exists), they seem to have overlooked the absence of another such put that proved dependable throughout the cyclical bull market.Read more
The Homebuilding stocks represent another Consumer Discretionary group ranking Attractive via our GS Scores; we have held the Homebuilding group for the last year and a half. Homebuilders is an extremely rate-conscious industry group given mortgage rates’ impact on housing affordability (and thus, demand).Read more
The Attitudinal category’s net reading is the best (i.e., most pessimistic) since the week following the February 2016 correction low. While that’s an encouraging sign, there’s no mechanical threshold on this composite which would indicate a “safe” re-entry point.Read more
Welcome to 2019! As we begin the New Year, volatility (the stock market’s VIX volatility index spiked above 30 last week) and uncertainty (Bear Market, Recession?) reign. Amongst all the chaos, and with much personal trepidation over what may actually happen this year, here are some observations and a few guesses for 2019.Read more
The lack of more meaningful MTI improvement in response to this month’s collapse suggests the bear has yet to fully express himself. But the swipes he’s taken so far have hit hard: Last week saw a nearly 150-point gain in the Intrinsic Value composite to its best level since April 2016.
It’s been one of the worst years on record for diversification, with our hypothetical All Asset No Authority (AANA) portfolio down 7.2% YTD through yesterday. That’s the second-worst year for AANA since 1972, and there’s probably not enough time left for performance to undercut 2008 (-24.9%) for the bottom spot.
Emerging Markets (EM) are not normally considered a safe place to hide during severe stock market corrections—but they have been in the latest equities swoon. As shown in Chart 1, while the S&P 500 composite stock price index has declined by more than 14% from its high on September 20th, the MSCI Emerging Market stock price index has only declined by about 7%.Read more
The median trailing P/E across the Leuthold 3000 universe has corrected more than 30% from January’s bull market peak (and all-time peak) of 25.1x to just 17.3x on Friday, while the median Normalized P/E ratio has shrunk more than 20% to 22.4x.Read more
Recently, when Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and President Donald Trump both blinked—one on rate hikes and the other on trade wars—the S&P 500 surged by more than 6% in about a week! Many sensed the primary challenges holding back stocks were finally resolving and sentiment quickly turned bullish as investors did not want to miss the Santa Rally!Read more
The Economic/Interest Rates/Inflation category was not a big mover on the week, but its relative stability of late has masked a major shift within key indicator groupings. Leading inflation measures have faded sharply, with upgrades across the board in the commodity readings.Read more
The valuation of the stock market has been under steady pressure this year. The S&P 500 trailing price-earnings (P/E) multiple has declined by about 25% from a recovery peak of 23 in January to about 18. The hope for this bull market is that P/E contraction is almost over, allowing stock prices to again rise with earnings gains.Read more
A massive drop in corporate tax payments lifted the third quarter NIPA profit margin back to the 10% level for the first time four years. But while we try not to always view the glass as half empty, we find it troubling that margins remain well-below their 2012 highs (10.6%) in spite of this one-time windfall.
Whatever one’s preferred leftovers from yesterday’s feast, the odds are good you’ll find them more appetizing than the slop served up by global asset markets this year. Stocks have obviously been turkeys, but all the surrounding trimmings that help diversify a portfolio have proven anything but complementary to the main course.Read more
A critical difference we’ve discussed repeatedly is that market overvaluation in the 1999/2000 episode was concentrated in roughly the top-50 Mega Caps, while current overvaluation—though arguably not as extreme—afflicts nearly the entire list of publicly-traded U.S. stocks.Read more
We first published the accompanying chart in March of this year. The PP Ratio had just spiked sharply upward in the previous three months, as it did near the end of the dot-com era in 2000. Since March, in a very similar fashion as shown, the PP Ratio has eerily traced the same path as during the dot-com era.
he velocity of the money supply measures the pace at which cash is spent in the economy, or the amount of total GDP activity created by each dollar of the money supply. Monetary velocity has long been a focal point for the Federal Reserve, economists, and investors because its growth often shapes the character of the recovery.Read more
While the consensus view remains that October’s stock market rout was “healthy” and “overdue,” we think it was more likely the first leg down of much larger decline. But it’s still worth reviewing the improvement in valuations that market losses and this year’s excellent fundamentals have combined to produce.