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S&P 500

Sep 22 2021

Q'Val: A Factor Powerhouse

  • Sep 22, 2021

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?

 

Sep 08 2021

Let Us Add To The Bullish Cacophony

  • Sep 8, 2021

It’s been a heck of a stock market year, and there are still four months left. What else could go right? Monetary conditions, for one thing—at least as proxied by our Dow Bond Oscillator (DBO).

Aug 06 2021

Golden Milestone

  • Aug 6, 2021

Fifty years ago this month, Richard Nixon formally suspended the convertibility of U.S. dollars into gold. Editorials commemorating this have tended to have a celebratory tone, and why not? Abandoning the gold standard greatly expanded the arsenals and imaginations of policymakers, both of which have been on historic display over the last 18 months.

Aug 06 2021

A Look At The Small-Cap Setback

  • Aug 6, 2021

The Russell 2000 has blown the 14% lead it had built against the S&P 500 earlier this year, and now trails the index by almost 5%. Has that type of intra-year reversal happened before, and, if so, did it portend a major change in leadership?

Jul 08 2021

Peak Earnings Yield A Rock-Bottom Forecast

  • Jul 8, 2021

At today’s 30.8x, the Peak P/E stands in the 99th percentile on all time horizons except the “New Era” (1995-to-date). Yet, that’s still five “handles” below the 35.8x all-time high recorded in December 1999. If that figure is matched, the S&P 500 will top 5,000. 

Jul 08 2021

Hard Facts Behind An Easy Job Market

  • Jul 8, 2021

Statistically, when jobs are “easy to get”—as all the survey evidence now indicates—attractive long-term returns for stocks typically become “hard to get.”

Apr 08 2021

Snack Time?

  • Apr 8, 2021

As discussed elsewhere in this section, we had a novel idea for asset allocators tired of chasing the S&P 500: Hop off the treadmill and take a “Donut” break!

Apr 08 2021

Time For A “Donut” Break?

  • Apr 8, 2021

Despite a resurgence in Small Cap stocks and Commodities, it still feels like an “S&P 500 World” for asset allocators. The financial media remain obsessed with S&P 500 targets, S&P 500 earnings, and S&P 500 stocks. And why wouldn’t they be?

Mar 12 2021

Stocks And Yields Revisited

  • Mar 12, 2021

The S&P 500 and 10-Year Treasury bond yield could accomplish something fairly rare today by closing at “joint” 52-week highs. The relevant levels to meet or exceed are 3934.83 on the S&P 500 and 1.49% on the bond yield.

Mar 05 2021

Bond Yields “Take Down” An Old Favorite

  • Mar 5, 2021

The “lower for longer” interest-rate thesis propped up the S&P 500 Low Volatility Index for more than a decade. Rising bond yields have since helped drive this former darling to an 18-year relative-strength low. Yet, assets in the S&P Low Volatility ETF are still five-times larger than its High-Beta counterpart.

Feb 05 2021

Climbing The Wall Of Confidence?

  • Feb 5, 2021

Stock market valuations may be considered the ultimate in fundamental measures, but they can just as easily be considered long-wave sentiment indicators. What causes equity investors to pay as little as 10x for S&P 500 Normalized Earnings at one point (March 2009), but pay more than 30x a dozen years later? The Fed printing press was in overdrive at both points; only emotions can account for the difference.

Jan 29 2021

An Historical Look At Biden’s “Future”

  • Jan 29, 2021

We’ve read far too much about what Joe Biden and a newly-blue Congress might do in the months ahead, but less so about the conditions Biden and his team inherit. Such “initial conditions” usually have a heavy hand in policy outcomes, market outcomes, and even a president’s legacy.

 

Dec 05 2020

Super-Rarified Air

  • Dec 5, 2020

The 2020 post-election stock surge looks and feels a lot like the 2016 “Trump Bump.” But, of course there’s a spoiler. The Biden Bump started with a Normalized P/E level about 30% higher than the one prevailing on election eve of 2016 (26.8x versus 20.5x, respectively). 

Nov 16 2020

S&P 500 Dividends? Thank You, No!

  • Nov 16, 2020

Dividends are a cornerstone of equity investing and over the decades they have produced a significant portion of the stock market’s total return.  Previous Leuthold research has identified a strong dividend influence on total returns for small and midcap companies.  Looking at S&P 500 constituents, we see that dividend growers outperformed companies that had flat or declining dividends – an expected outcome.  However, we also found that companies not paying dividends convincingly outpaced dividend payers.  This is contrary to the results in other market segments, but the explanation for this becomes apparent in the course of our research.

Nov 06 2020

VLT’s Struggles Are Telling Us Something

  • Nov 6, 2020

Our Very Long Term (VLT) Momentum algorithm has been a very good “confirmatory” market tool over the years, especially at the onset of a new cyclical bull market. But VLT has proven to be of little to no value in navigating this year’s gyrations. VLT’s latest flip-flops reinforce our view that the market leaderboard is set to be rearranged.

Nov 06 2020

Remembering Trump

  • Nov 6, 2020

Donald Trump will be remembered as the most polarizing political figure in U.S. history, but he was an unwitting consensus-builder on an issue that was long thought to be “settled science.”

Sep 24 2020

A Wobble At The Top

  • Sep 24, 2020

Look, quick! Before it reverses! The Top-5 firms in the S&P 500 have underperformed in September! I’m sorry, you’ll have to forgive my sense of urgency, but the astounding speed and consistency in which these firms have outperformed may have burned the notion into my brain that they can only “go up” (or at the very least beat the index).

Aug 06 2020

A Look At Two Historical Near-Misses

  • Aug 6, 2020

As we go to press (said no one in the digital age, ever!), the S&P 500 was moving to within a couple percentage points of its February 19th all-time high. Given still-high valuations for the blue chips and increasingly frothy sentiment, we think any break above that high will be underwhelming, if not a potentially historic “trap.”

Aug 06 2020

Implications Of The “Breakout”

  • Aug 6, 2020

July’s developments led to us investigate the market valuations accompanying all past month-end S&P 500 breakouts which (1) eclipsed the prior month-end bull market high; and (2) made a new all-time high in the process.

Jul 08 2020

How Much For Your “Free Lunch?”

  • Jul 8, 2020

The 41% S&P 500 rally would be half as large if measured in terms of gold, and a “unit” of the S&P 500 now buys 70% fewer ounces of gold than it did in early 2000. Meanwhile, when denominated in either silver or Bitcoin, the stock market rally has been almost nonexistent.

Jul 08 2020

Low Single Digits?

  • Jul 8, 2020

We encourage diversity of thought in our shop, but even pessimists among our ranks have a hard time making the case for a ten-year negative return for U.S. stocks, which was recently predicted by the founder of a large hedge fund.

Jun 05 2020

The Money Supply Isn’t Magic

  • Jun 5, 2020

Imagine our surprise when the bullish stock market narrative is suddenly all about money. Cynically, though, that might be because money supply and the unemployment rate are the only economic data series staging upside breakouts, and the latter doesn’t lend itself to a good narrative.

Jun 05 2020

A Long Boom, And The Ultimate Bust

  • Jun 5, 2020

Last December, we marveled at the disconnect between the (surging) S&P 500 and the (sagging) Boom/Bust Indicator. Just six months later, we can only scratch our heads at what the hell we were complaining about.

May 29 2020

Can The Rally Recover From Its 0-For-8 Start?

  • May 29, 2020

The current rally is either the first upleg of a new bull market, or the second-largest bear market rally in the last 125 years. The lone development that can settle the issue is for the S&P 500 to move above its February 19th closing high of 3,386.15.

May 07 2020

Calculate The Next Low... With The Last Peak?

  • May 7, 2020

How does one value a stock market in which 12-month forward EPS estimates show their widest dispersion in history? A good start might be with methods we use when forward estimates show practically no dispersion (like three months ago). In either case, we place little weight on such estimates; each revision usually has only marginal impact on our 5-Year Normalized EPS.

May 07 2020

There’s More To It Than That

  • May 7, 2020

It’s a down year for stocks, yet John Bogle must still be chuckling. A full-employment economy that had propped up one of the two most overvalued stock markets in U.S. history just suffered a cataclysmic “sudden stop.” Yet Bogle’s buy-and-hold disciplines have so far dodged the bear.

Apr 30 2020

A “May Day” Revolution?

  • Apr 30, 2020

With May Day marches and demonstrations cancelled, the workers of the world have one less opportunity to remind us of the ever-widening wealth gap and the evils of the “Top 1%.” It’s a shame, because this was the year that we active managers would have stood shoulder to shoulder with those protesters voicing our own contempt for the “Top 1%”… of the S&P 500.

 

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 13 2020

Better Than Bonds And An All-Time Record

  • Mar 13, 2020

The collapse of U.S. Treasury yields and the simultaneous end of the bull market has produced a new all-time record for the S&P 500, albeit under less-than-desirable circumstances.

Mar 06 2020

A Signal Bulls Should Love...

  • Mar 6, 2020

There’s no question that it’s been a rough couple of years for stock market technicians. We noted earlier that if February 19th stands as the final high of the bull market, it would be only the third time in the last 100 years that the NYSE Daily Advance/Decline Line failed to provide at least a few months’ advance notice of the oncoming bear.

Mar 06 2020

Valuation “Reset?”

  • Mar 6, 2020

The massive performance dispersion of the past two years makes it difficult (if not hazardous) to draw a simple conclusion about U.S. stock market valuations. But it’s safe to say that cap-weighted indexes like the S&P 500 and S&P Industrial Index remained significantly overvalued at the low point of the February correction.

Feb 07 2020

Superhuman Feats Got Us Here

  • Feb 7, 2020

The simultaneous “New Era” ascension in margins and P/E ratios hasn’t generated anything exceptional from a return perspective. To the contrary, annualized S&P 500 total returns over this 25-year period of margin magic and (mostly) escalating P/E ratios merely match “Old Era” returns.

Jan 24 2020

What’s Embedded In The Consensus?

  • Jan 24, 2020

Market momentum now seems to outweigh simple math in the minds of most investors, and we are not entirely immune. Today our tactical funds are positioned with net equity exposure of 50%, the midpoint of the normal 30-70% range. That’s a higher allocation than if we considered only business cycle dynamics and equity valuations.

 

Jan 10 2020

The Stock Market Is Trading Like Trump’s A Democrat!

  • Jan 10, 2020

Around the time of Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, we observed that prevailing valuations argued against him witnessing big stock market gains during his first term.

Jan 08 2020

A Good Year To “Own It All”

  • Jan 8, 2020

It’s no surprise that U.S. Large Caps were the #1 asset class performer in 2019. We were surprised that last year was the only one of the decade in which the S&P 500 won the annual performance derby. Here we review the annual performance of “Bridesmaid” asset class and sector, “Perfect Foresight,” and Lowest P/E sector.

Jan 08 2020

Stocks And GDP

  • Jan 8, 2020

Economists argue the best thing the stock market has going for it is the continuation of the U.S. economic expansion. Maybe.

Jan 08 2020

Waiting For The Stimulus To Trickle Down...

  • Jan 8, 2020

Last year the Federal Reserve dumped historic stimulus onto a full-employment economy and an already richly-valued stock market. The stock market obviously loved it.

Jan 08 2020

A Spectacularly Average Thirty Years

  • Jan 8, 2020

In the spirit of good holiday cheer, we made a partial concession to the True Believers with a December “Chart of the Week” in which we narrowed our stock market valuation analysis to the historically elevated levels of last 30 years.

Jan 08 2020

A Blast From The Past

  • Jan 8, 2020

With 2020 representing The Leuthold Group’s 40th year of publishing Perception For The Professional, we perused the first few Green Books for relevant nuggets from 1981, but the backdrop could not have been more different. Therefore, we instead turned the clock back 20 years, thinking it might yield insights more resonant with today’s environment.

Dec 20 2019

Valuations: An Updated “Modern” Take

  • Dec 20, 2019

An occasional critique of our valuation work is that we consider “too much” market history to form a judgment as to what constitutes “high” or “low.” This type of feedback declined during and after the financial crisis (when historic valuation thresholds were temporarily revisited), but it has become more pointed as the U.S. market has soared to new highs.