We thought we’d get a jump on all the “End of the 2010s” retrospectives you’re sure to see next month. Though not quite yet the official end of the decade, the changing of the “tens” digit definitely has a certain gravitas to it.
The fear (or hope) that U.S. bond yields would fall to zero or below subsided over the last month. However, the belief that low yields merit significantly above-average P/E ratios remains stronger than ever.
U.S. equity valuations remain considerably higher than those of any major foreign market, but there’s no denying they’ve improved from the cyclical peak made in January 2018. That’s true across the capitalization spectrum, and on the basis of both normalized and non-normalized fundamentals.
Question: Your “Estimating The Downside” section shows the S&P 500 would lose 26% if it reverts to its 1957-to-date median valuation level. The downside estimate for the S&P Industrials Index, however, is almost -40%. Why such a huge difference?
The impact of atypically-high current valuations has become a challenge for style-box investing. High quality, mature dividend payers have habitually resided in the Value and Blend boxes, but investors have bid up those valuations as they look for alternatives to low bond yields.
The divergence between S&P 500 Low Volatility and High Beta Indexes has emerged for the 3rd time in a year. The 3-month performance spread is even more extreme than it had been on the eve of either the August or December stock market air pockets.
Small Caps have staged a nice rebound in the last several weeks. On July 3rd, the Russell 2000 rose to within a fraction of an index point of its March 4th all-time high. But on a relative strength basis, the bounce has been pretty muted.