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Valuations

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.

Feb 05 2021

Normalize This!

  • Feb 5, 2021

The sell-side is at it again, publishing a one-year ahead “Adjusted” EPS figure for the S&P 500 that is unlikely to be achieved—and then affixing P/E multiples seen near an historic market peak to “capitalize” on those unlikely earnings.

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.

 

Jan 08 2021

Y2K 2.0?

  • Jan 8, 2021

Cap-weighted valuations for the S&P 500 and S&P Industrials are homing in on the all-time records seen in the first quarter of 2000. We’ll confess that after those valuations collapsed in the years that followed, we thought we’d never see them again in our lifetime—let alone a mere generation later. 

Jan 08 2021

What If It’s Just A “Median” Bull?

  • Jan 8, 2021

Last spring and summer, we were incorrectly skeptical that a new bull had been born only five weeks after the death of oldest bull ever. But be careful with labels. Just as the “bear market” mindset caused us to overplay our hand last spring, equity bulls should not assume the current bull will look anything like the decade-long affairs we’ve seen twice in the last 30 years.

Jan 08 2021

Passive’s “Placid Pandemic Performance”

  • Jan 8, 2021

The 200-day “report card” for this bull market shows the best initial-performance gain of all postwar bulls, but it’s come at a price. Investor sentiment is above levels seen at the same point of past bull markets… and there are the valuations. 

Dec 09 2020

Style Rotation: Anything But Growth

  • Dec 9, 2020

Driven by massive government stimulus, an imminent vaccine rollout, and the expectation of record earnings in 2021, investors seem to be on the verge of embracing a move away from Large Cap Growth stocks in earnest. The leading candidates offered as broad-based alternatives to Large Growth (LG) include Value, Small Caps, and Emerging Markets.

Dec 05 2020

A 40-Year Inflationary Echo

  • Dec 5, 2020

When measured by the gains in stocks, gold, and house prices, there has been just one other occasion in which asset inflation was as “broad” as today—late 1980. But the differences in underlying fundamentals between then and now couldn’t be more stark. 

Dec 05 2020

Just A “Small” Beginning...

  • Dec 5, 2020

Knee-jerk contrarians are already claiming the stampede in Small Cap stocks is “too consensus” to continue in the near term. We couldn’t disagree more. In fact, we are very confident that a new multi-year Small Cap leadership cycle has kicked off.

Dec 04 2020

Research Preview: Rotating Away From Growth

  • Dec 4, 2020

This study examines Value, Small Cap, and Emerging Markets to see if they do, in fact, behave in a correlated manner when viewed as alternatives to Large Growth. The goal is to determine whether this trio of rotational favorites can be considered as broadly-equivalent replacements for LG.

Nov 06 2020

Time For EM Stocks?

  • Nov 6, 2020

On the basis of both Normalized P/E and Price/Book, there’s plenty of runway for EM stocks if they get back to even the midpoint of their 20-year valuation range. Rising commodity prices and a weak dollar would obviously help, and we expect both in the year ahead.

Oct 29 2020

It’s Time To Choose

  • Oct 29, 2020

Which box do you check? The “status quo” or the “change of pace?” Keep in mind, the same decision in front of you turned out to be extraordinarily important four years ago. So, which will it be for 2020 and beyond? Large Cap Growth or Small Cap Value?

 

Oct 07 2020

The Valuation Case For “SMIDs”

  • Oct 7, 2020

Mid and Small Cap stocks underperformed in 2018 and 2019. However, after the collapse of February and March, these “SMID” Caps have largely kept pace with the torrid rebound in the blue chips. Today’s valuations are priming the SMIDs for a similar “decoupling” in the years ahead, like that following Y2K.

Oct 07 2020

A Fast Start Comes At A Big Price

  • Oct 7, 2020

The first up-leg of the bull market has catapulted many Large Cap valuations to levels seen only in 1999, 2000, 2019, and pre-pandemic 2020. At the six-month point on September 23rd, the S&P 500 P/E on 5-Yr. Normalized EPS had already reached 26.9x—a reading that is 30% higher than at the same point of any other bull market.

Oct 01 2020

European Banks: Buy Low…?

  • Oct 1, 2020

As steadfast believers that “price paid” is a major determinant of an investment’s risk and return, we snap to attention whenever we hear that an asset is selling at a multi-decade low.

Sep 05 2020

Does An Economic Rebound “Inoculate” The Stock Market?

  • Sep 5, 2020

The 2020 decline exhibits a strong resemblance to the “incomplete” bear market of March 2000-September 2001—in that neither decline sufficiently deflated the extreme valuations of the preceding bull, and each was followed by an immediate rebound in reliable valuation measures to top decile levels.

Sep 05 2020

The Tab For “Freebies” Keeps Escalating

  • Sep 5, 2020

There’s an underlying faith that bureaucrats at the Fed and Treasury will keep good and bad businesses, alike, afloat—and overvalued. We’re still trying to unearth a single historical analog that merits such confidence.

Sep 05 2020

Musings On A Manic Market

  • Sep 5, 2020

Officially, those quick to pronounce the move off March lows as a new bull market have been proven correct with new S&P 500 all-time highs. Fundamentally, though, there’s enormous risk in Large Cap valuations, regardless of where one believes we are in the economic cycle.

Aug 06 2020

A “Litmus Group” For The Bulls

  • Aug 6, 2020

As troubled sectors vary from downturn to downturn, commercial banks have shown an uncanny ability to leap in front of each cycle’s proverbial pie truck. This time, it’s hard to identify the precise epicenter—especially amidst all the bailouts.

Aug 06 2020

A “Low-Risk” BUY?!?

  • Aug 6, 2020

So what do we make of July’s “low-risk” VLT BUY signal on the DJIA—the index on which the indicator’s creator (Sedge Coppock) did his original work? Sadly, not much.

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 10 2020

The Growth Style’s Twin Peaks

  • Jul 10, 2020

The strong market rebound in the second quarter lifted the relative return of Growth vs. Value to an all-time high by the end of June. Chart 1 reveals that the cumulative S&P 500 Growth / Value return spread hit a new record last month, surpassing the previous high reached at the end of the Tech bubble in June 2000. 

Jun 05 2020

The Wrong Kind Of “Head Start”

  • Jun 5, 2020

The rally’s initial resemblance to the first up-leg off the secular 2009 market bottom is remarkable. Both rallies started in March, and achieved gains of almost 40% within 50 trading days. Both, of course, sprung from a backdrop of unprecedented monetary stimulus.

Jun 05 2020

“Not Quite” Super

  • Jun 5, 2020

The average “super-overbought” MBI reading occurred 54 days after a market low; June 4th marks the 51st trading day since the March 23rd low. Thus, any signal in the days ahead would arrive essentially “on time,” but the slippage (the S&P 500 gain already realized) would be enormous at around 40%!

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 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 07 2020

Are Foreign Stocks Cheap Enough?

  • Apr 7, 2020

For those who must remain fully invested, an interesting (if not sickening) feature of the bear market is that those who entered it loaded with the most expensive and “trendiest” stocks and sectors have lost the least.

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

A Bear Market In Price, But Not Time

  • Apr 7, 2020

We have a hard time accepting that the excesses associated with an eleven-year bull market and expansion can be fully expunged in 27 trading days, no matter how ugly those days were… keep some powder dry!

Mar 27 2020

Remembering Another “March Milestone”

  • Mar 27, 2020

While the bull didn’t live to see his 11th birthday, this month did mark the anniversary of another historic event: Twenty years ago this week saw the peak bubble-era close in the S&P 500 of 1,527.46. 

 

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 17 2020

Valuation Dispersions Reach 2009 Levels

  • Mar 17, 2020

The recent market turmoil has only served to exacerbate equity style trends that have been in place for years, with Value, Small Caps, and High Beta all underperforming relative to Growth / Momentum, Large Cap, and Low Volatility, respectively. 

Mar 16 2020

Estimating The Downside

  • Mar 16, 2020

With the markets in freefall, we’ve seen a dramatic spike in interest in our monthly “Estimating the Downside” vignette. We think a mid-month snapshot is in order to give some idea as to how much meat has been taken off the valuation bone.

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.

Mar 02 2020

Interim Memo

  • Mar 2, 2020

The coronavirus epidemic/pandemic is getting the bulk of the blame for the sudden collapse in U.S. equities, and certainly qualifies as one of the few “black swans” seen in modern market history. We do not think the ultimate path of the coronavirus contagion can be analyzed at this point, and medical experts foresee possible outcomes ranging from a serious epidemic to a short burst of illness that fades with the summer weather. 

Feb 07 2020

EM Equity Purgatory

  • Feb 7, 2020

Nine months ago we established a “pilot” position of 4% in Emerging Market equities in the Leuthold Core Fund, based mostly on the bullish inflection in a long-term technical indicator (VLT Momentum).

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.