Skip to content

Small Caps

Jul 15 2020

Profiting From Mighty Mites

  • Jul 15, 2020

One of the signature traits of the U.S. small cap market is the prevalence of money losing companies. A recent tally indicated that prior to Covid, 38% of small caps were reporting trailing year losses despite the widespread economic strength of 2019.

Jul 08 2020

The “Next Big Thing” May Not Be Big

  • Jul 8, 2020

There’s one trend that’s lasted almost as long as the bull market and economic expansion and it hasn’t definitively come to an end. The current Large Cap Leadership Cycle hit the nine-year mark in April.

Jul 07 2020

Preview: The Importance Of Quality In Small Caps

  • Jul 7, 2020

One of the signature traits of the U.S. small cap market is the prevalence of money-losing companies. Our recent tally indicates that even prior to COVID-19, 38% of small caps were reporting trailing year losses despite the widespread economic strength of 2019.

Jun 05 2020

Revenge Of The Nerds?

  • Jun 5, 2020

Last month we detailed two technical shortcomings of the rally off the March 23rd market low. The stock market duly noted our critique and has issued its response.

Jun 04 2020

Money Losers Among Small-Cap Growth

  • Jun 4, 2020

Late last year, we presented data showing that profitability has become more elusive for small companies despite a record-long period of economic expansion. We discussed the potential causes underlying this phenomenon.

Jun 04 2020

Small Cap Valuations: Zombies And Ragamuffins

  • Jun 4, 2020

Asset allocation decisions are fairly straightforward for groups of profitable and growing companies that fit nicely into a discounted cash flow model, but it is more difficult to describe the valuation of groups that include unprofitable companies.

May 07 2020

Where Are The Leaders We Need?

  • May 7, 2020

Small Caps lagged during the bounce off the March lows before a late-April spurt briefly pulled them ahead of the S&P 500. Still, considering that Russell 2000 losses were so much steeper than the S&P 500’s (-43% versus -33%), we would have expected something better.

Apr 24 2020

This Bounce Lacks “Oomph”

  • Apr 24, 2020

Through last night’s close, the S&P 500 had gained 25.0% in exactly one month. Impressive, but a bit superficial. Anyone running active equity portfolios recognizes the breadth of this move has been unusually narrow.

Apr 07 2020

Are SMIDs Cheap Enough?

  • Apr 7, 2020

A composite measure of Mid Caps and Small Caps are at bottom-decile valuations relative to their 26-year histories. From a shorter-term viewpoint, though, we find it scary that valuations are so low just a single month into the recession.

Apr 07 2020

Small Cap Smack-Down

  • Apr 7, 2020

We were fooled on Small Caps, and it’s been a “multi-factor” catastrophe.

Mar 20 2020

Valuations: A “Progress” Report

  • Mar 20, 2020

As deep as the losses in the DJIA and S&P 500 have been, most professional investors recognize that those averages have masked the extent of the damage suffered by most stocks.

Mar 06 2020

A Developing Opportunity In The “SMIDs?”

  • Mar 6, 2020

The underperformance of Mid and Small Caps in the last few years has taken valuations from top-decile readings (and, indeed, a few all-time records) just 25 months ago, down to the middle—and even lower reaches—of their 30-year valuation boundaries.

Jan 15 2020

Small Cap Quality Check

  • Jan 15, 2020

December’s Of Special Interest provided a recap of our Asset Allocation team’s view of small cap equities, suggesting that small caps had underperformed and reached a valuation discount that made them an interesting contrarian value proposition. Several clients responded with follow-up questions, wondering if the discount valuation of small caps was offset by their typically weaker business models.

Jan 08 2020

Preview: Small Caps—Part 2

  • Jan 8, 2020

In response to client queries, we extended our research of small cap equities from last month. One angle we pursued was the relationship between small caps, quality, and business risk. The full report will be released mid-month.

Dec 18 2019

A Small Cap Strategy Session

  • Dec 18, 2019

Leuthold’s research team has recently flagged a number of items that suggest it may be time to consider small cap stocks. This asset class has been showing signs of life and the decision to overweight small caps is starting to seem relevant – and perhaps nicely profitable - again.

Dec 06 2019

A New Take On Small Cap Valuations

  • Dec 6, 2019

For valuation work, we’ve traditionally favored the 1,200 company Leuthold Small Cap universe over the S&P SmallCap 600 because we get almost a full additional decade of perspective. But figures for the latter shed extra light on just how significant the revaluation in Small Caps has been.

Dec 06 2019

More Good News For Small Caps

  • Dec 6, 2019

Our call for improved relative performance in Small Caps received another boost in November, when VLT Momentum for the S&P SmallCap 600 confirmed the prior month’s “low-risk” BUY signal on the Russell 2000.

Dec 06 2019

How Will It Be Remembered?

  • Dec 6, 2019

A way to gain perspective on the present is by trying to view it from the future. Ask yourself, “What are the signs of impending decline, now ignored by investors, that will one day be memorialized by the same investors as the most obvious in retrospect?”   

Nov 07 2019

VLT Complicates The Market Puzzle

  • Nov 7, 2019

At October’s close, a long-term BUY signal was triggered on the Russell 2000. The fact that some market segments are triggering “oversold BUYS” when blue chips are at record highs speaks volumes about the internal disparities that have developed during the last few years. The Russell BUY signal is not inconsistent with our belief that the action since the January 2018 peak remains part of a lengthy cyclical topping process.

Oct 05 2019

Small Cap VLT BUY: Not Quite...

  • Oct 5, 2019

Small Caps came tantalizingly close to activating a major VLT BUY signal in September, with the Russell 2000 closing less than a half percent below the trigger level. A new bull signal from this indicator wouldn’t “fit” into our market and economic narrative, but we won’t sweep it under the rug if it occurs.

Sep 07 2019

Worrisome Profitability Trend Among Small Cap Companies

  • Sep 7, 2019

Despite a historic economic expansion during the past decade, there is an ever-increasing number of companies that are finding profitability has become harder to achieve.

Sep 07 2019

Small Caps: “What If?”

  • Sep 7, 2019

The Russell 2000 is the most important major index on the cusp of a new BUY signal. Our best guess is that Small Caps will still trend lower for now, creating a buying opportunity in the months ahead.

Aug 07 2019

The Fed Subsidy Is Wearing Off

  • Aug 7, 2019

Earnings results for the second quarter have so far "beaten" expectations (as they always seem to), but that hasn’t changed the calculus for Small Cap companies. About one-third of them have negative earnings over the last twelve months.

Jun 07 2019

The Small Cap Discount Deepens

  • Jun 7, 2019

Small Caps typically underperform during a bull market’s final phase, and our findings with respect to the Output Gap aid our understanding of that phenomenon.

Apr 18 2019

Small Caps And The Recent “Rate Hike”

  • Apr 18, 2019

The 1999 leadership parallels we discussed in the latest Green Book remain intact—U.S. over foreign, Growth over Value, and Large over Small. Small Caps have given up most of the “beta bounce” enjoyed in the first two months off the December low, with one Small Cap measure—the Russell Microcap Index (the bottom 1000 of the Russell 2000)—undercutting last year’s relative strength low and those of 2011 and 2016.

Apr 05 2019

VLT & Implications For Small Caps

  • Apr 5, 2019

For much of this decade, we had an allocation preference for Large Caps over Small Caps because of the considerable P/E premium commanded by the latter.

Dec 07 2018

They Can’t Tax What’s Not Earned

  • Dec 7, 2018

With three quarters of a sharply lower corporate tax rate on the books, the median four-quarter trailing profit margin for both the S&P 500 and S&P MidCap 400 jumped to all-time records in the third quarter.

Nov 07 2018

P/E Crash!!

  • Nov 7, 2018

While this year’s liquidity squeeze has yet to exact the toll we ultimately expect on the U.S. stock mar-ket, it has certainly contributed to a sharp compression in P/E multiples.

Aug 07 2018

A Market Breadth Mystery

  • Aug 7, 2018

It’s difficult to knock a stock market in which Small Caps and major breadth measures are making frequent new highs, however, there are performance anomalies that suggest liquidity is no longer sufficient to “float all boats.” Recent underperformance of the Equal Weighted S&P 500 is a case in point, at the same time, the current dichotomy in market breadth pales in comparison to the 1999-2000 episode.

Jul 06 2018

Try This On For Size

  • Jul 6, 2018

Today’s market is barbelled regarding company size, with the mega-cap Tech stocks and the S&P 600 Small Cap index both outperforming the middle of the S&P 500.

Jun 01 2018

If You Think This Market’s Fishy, You’re Right

  • Jun 1, 2018

Tomorrow is the Minnesota season-opener for muskies, but the fanatics who chase them are likely disappointed that it comes a few days after an event that’s known to trigger these beasts: the full moon. The screenshot is from our $9.95 “iSolunar” iPhone app, and shows that Saturday merits only a “three fish” day (out of a possible “four fish”)—based on the moon’s fading illumination. 

 

May 25 2018

Breadth Is Great— Except Where It Matters The Most

  • May 25, 2018

Last week’s piece challenged the now popular view that new highs for the Russell 2000 are a decisively bullish factor for the stock market in the near term. To our surprise, we found that market returns during periods of well-defined Small Cap leadership are significantly lower than when Smalls are laggards.

 

May 18 2018

Is Small Cap Leadership Bullish?

  • May 18, 2018

The Russell 2000 closed above its January 26th high on Wednesday, and well beforehand bulls had seized upon the secondary stocks’ leadership as evidence that all is right again with both the U.S. economy and stock market...

Jul 08 2017

Small Caps Out Of “Phase?”

  • Jul 8, 2017

If one manipulates the data correctly, one can make the size effect—whereby Small Caps earn excess returns over the long pull—look instead like a beta effect.

May 05 2017

Leverage Factor: A Tailwind For High Quality Stocks?

  • May 5, 2017

Following 2016 underperformance, High Quality stocks eked out an advantage over Low Quality stocks to begin 2017 (+5.3% versus +2.1%, respectively). Yet, the “Junk Rally” trend seems difficult to reverse.

May 05 2017

Small Cap Seasonality

  • May 5, 2017

We’ve seen several pundits’ analyses of the “Sell In May” phenomenon of late, but none of them has addressed the most salient feature of this anomaly, which is that it’s historically been a predominantly Small Cap phenomenon.

Apr 07 2017

What’s Ailing Small Caps?

  • Apr 7, 2017

While the Russell 2000 loss during the 2015-16 correction was almost double that of the S&P 500, the decline did not fully erase the P/E premium Small Caps have enjoyed since the middle of last decade. The premium might need to be entirely erased before a multi-year Small Cap leadership cycle can begin.

Apr 07 2017

Spring Forward, Fall Back?

  • Apr 7, 2017

The S&P 500 has gained about 5% on the year, respectable but hardly consistent with the “melt up” scenario we thought might occur.

Oct 14 2016

Small Caps: Growing Into Their Valuations

  • Oct 14, 2016

Fed tapering of its QE3 asset purchase program ended two years ago this month, yet we don’t believe this episode has received appropriate recognition for the role it’s played in the relatively flat stock market environment that’s followed the onset of tapering in January 2014.

Sep 08 2016

Sizing Up Small Caps

  • Sep 8, 2016

While the most inflated domestic-valuation readings are found in the Large Cap realm, the market rebound has driven the median 12-month trailing P/E in our Small Cap universe to 22.5x (Chart 1)—less than a point away from the June 2015 all-time high of 23.3x.