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Valuations

Apr 08 2021

Introducing The “New” MTI

  • Apr 8, 2021

We launched a revamped version of our Major Trend Index. The objective of the new methodology is to increase the flexibility, and even the subjectivity of the MTI. This approach recognizes the “subjective reality,” without forcing us into the tedium of re-weighting sub-factors if they become more or less critical as market dynamics evolve.

Apr 07 2021

Research Preview: The Experiential-Reopening Trade

  • Apr 7, 2021

A strong argument can be made that experiential consumer services was the economic sector hardest hit by the pandemic lockdown. Cruise ships were forbidden to sail, restaurants and theme parks were closed, and air travel and hotel occupancy dwindled—all in an attempt to minimize personal/public interaction. The stocks of experiential companies took a beating in March 2020.

Mar 22 2021

Podcast #31 - Valuation Extremes: Here Be Dragons

  • Mar 22, 2021

Top decile valuations are often the result of unduly positive investor sentiment that leads to inflated multiples. Bullishness comes in varying strengths: optimism, enthusiasm, exuberance, and, at the extreme, the mania of crowds. 

Mar 19 2021

A Flight Of Wee Dragons

  • Mar 19, 2021

In our mid-month Of Special Interest, “Valuation Extremes: Here Be Dragons,” we examined valuation outliers as a measure of market sentiment. The hypothesis was that exuberance is reflected in investors’ willingness to hold stocks priced on an aggressive “vision” of the future; companies that are either habitually unprofitable or trade at a Price/Sales ratio above 15x.

Mar 17 2021

Valuation Extremes: Here Be Dragons

  • Mar 17, 2021

Top decile valuations are often the result of unduly positive investor sentiment that leads to inflated multiples. Bullishness comes in varying strengths: optimism, enthusiasm, exuberance, and, at the extreme, the mania of crowds. Because bullishness manifests itself in aggressive valuations for speculative companies, we believe the prices being applied to such companies - for which intrinsic value is dependent on a future that looks significantly different than today - are an excellent measure of investor sentiment. In that spirit, we examined past cycles of extreme valuations with the goal of understanding how they relate to investor sentiment and what they might tell us about market conditions and relative returns.

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.

Mar 05 2021

If You Like TINA, You Should Love “SAMARA!”

  • Mar 5, 2021

Equity investors have had a multi-year love affair with TINA—the belief that “There Is No Alternative” to stocks in a world of ridiculously-low interest rates. This TINA romance has carried on so long that the S&P 500 is nearing valuations last seen in the Tech bubble’s final inning. If the fling with TINA has become prohibitively expensive, we’d like to introduce “SAMARA.”

Mar 05 2021

A “New-Era” Look At The Future

  • Mar 5, 2021

Young readers sometimes give us a not-so-subtle roll of the eyes when we discuss any sort of stock market history that occurred before their date of birth, but it takes experience to appreciate that “there’s nothing new under the sun—least of all in the stock market.”

Mar 04 2021

Research Preview: A Tale Of Two Tails

  • Mar 4, 2021

Top decile valuations, such as those in place today, are usually the result of excessively positive investor sentiment that leads to inflated multiples. Bullishness comes in varying strengths: optimism, enthusiasm, exuberance, and, at the extreme, the mania of crowds. Leuthold research typically tracks valuation sentiment by examining median P/E ratios, but in this study, we are taking the opposite tack. Rather than looking at medians, we are focusing on the outliers in each tail of the valuation distribution.

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!