Where’s The Profit Leverage?
Industrial commodity prices and the latest ISM figures both point to a stabilization in the manufacturing sector following a two-year deceleration. Expectations for this year’s earnings have turned more optimistic as a result, but are the hopes warranted?
Sector Margin Trends
The S&P 500 record median profit margin of 10.3% is now almost a full percentage point above the last cycle’s peak of 9.4% (second quarter of 2007). Trends across S&P sectors are not as uniform as one might expect, though, with only half of the ten sectors last quarter at profitability levels that exceeded their 2001-2007 expansion highs.
The Bull Market Turns Five
The post-2009 stock market upswing now qualifies as only the sixth cyclical bull market since 1900 to last five years or more. But only three of the previous five-year-old bulls lived to see a sixth birthday.
Making a Play on Interest Rates in Equities
If a manager has the freedom to buy bonds, there does not seem to be much reason to buy interest sensitive equities as a strategy unless there are other positive factors. Tables in this section demonstrate why. However, if you can’t buy bonds the next best thing is buying high yield top quality utilities with minimal nuclear exposure, as close to a bond proxy as you can get.