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Valuations

Nov 05 2022

Valuation Mirage?

  • Nov 5, 2022

Thanks to the 2009-2021 experience, an entire generation of investors can’t distinguish between a stock market that’s down in price and one that’s actually “cheap.” The current bear market seems on course to make that distinction relevant again.

Nov 05 2022

Thoughts On The Secular Outlook

  • Nov 5, 2022

Some have speculated that 2022 might have been the kick-off for a decade-long era in which the broad stock market indexes will make essentially no progress, like 1966-1982. However, that earlier experience provided opportunities within other market segments, which will also stand a much better chance in coming years. 

Oct 24 2022

The 60/40’s Annus Horribilis

  • Oct 24, 2022

The balanced portfolio strategy of allocating 60% to equities and 40% to fixed income generated a highly satisfactory 7.9% annualized return over the last 30 years. Despite the excellent returns earned by investors following this strategic model, the past couple of years have seen a parade of articles with headlines such as “Is the 60/40 Portfolio Obsolete?” and “Is the 60/40 Dead?” Given the central importance of this moderate allocation strategy to investment industry practices, we felt a closer look at the 60/40 portfolio was in order.

 

Oct 07 2022

Tightening Into A Slowdown: Month Eight

  • Oct 7, 2022

We think the U.S. economy will slip into recession sometime in the next year, but the level of “excess savings” provided by pandemic aid renders the already difficult task of timing more elusive than ever.

Sep 30 2022

Time To Retire The Fed Model?

  • Sep 30, 2022

We’ve heard no references lately to the famous “Fed Model” for stock market valuation. We think we know why: The model’s usual proponents probably don’t like its current verdict—which is that stocks are far more expensive than at the early January market peak.

Sep 08 2022

Another Stab At The “Downside”

  • Sep 8, 2022

How far might the S&P 500 fall in a recessionary bear market? The 2002 and 2020 stock market lows were both produced by “recessionary” bears; based on history back to the 1920s, those two lows stand out as the priciest bear market bottoms on record—and it’s not even close.

Sep 08 2022

No Rest For The Weary

  • Sep 8, 2022

If there’s a polar opposite to “Goldilocks,” this must be it. Not too hot and not too cold? What about both? Job growth and inflation are hot enough to force the Fed to follow through on its hawkish promises. But the leading indicators continue to warn us of oncoming cold. The odds that the porridge settles at the right temperature, without an intervening recession, look longer by the day.

Aug 05 2022

Valuations: Living Beyond One’s Means?

  • Aug 5, 2022

We won’t dispute that investors were not genuinely frightened at the June market lows, or that fears have evaporated following a 13% rally in the S&P 500. The distress is understandable: For 26 traumatizing days in 2022, our S&P 500 Normalized P/E multiple traded below its 1957-to-date top decile!

Aug 05 2022

Bear Market Rallies In Context

  • Aug 5, 2022

The 2022 bear market is the 13th cyclical bear since 1950, and it’s already joined the mightiest half of its predecessors based on the fact that it’s actually contained a bear-market rally. Six of the prior 12 bear markets weren’t interrupted by even one rally of at least 10%.

Jul 08 2022

“Recessionary” Valuations?

  • Jul 8, 2022

The bear was a mere cub back in March when we examined the historical record of buying S&P 500 dips in the -10% to -12% range. “Blindly” buying them turned out to have mediocre returns, but we illustrated that the positions of various business-cycle indicators could help one determine whether or not catching the proverbial “falling knife” was warranted.

Jul 08 2022

Break Out The Checkbook!

  • Jul 8, 2022

We apologize for that terribly misleading teaser of a title, but the bills for the stock-market mania of 2020-2021 are piling up. Inflation is one of them, lately increasing each month as relentlessly as cable TV used to. And for the 10% of households who own 90% of the stocks, market air-pockets such as June’s are like “surprise” medical bills: There’s rarely just one

Jun 22 2022

“PSsss”

  • Jun 22, 2022

The most brutal bear markets occur when falling earnings are accompanied by shrinking valuations, producing a compound negative effect on stock prices. Investors in 2022 have (so far) avoided this double-whammy in that valuations have taken a hit, but EPS estimates are holding strong. We are intrigued by the notion that 2022’s bear market has, to date, been all about valuation compression rather than earnings weakness. Investors are coping with the problems of the day by letting the air out of bubbly valuations, and this report takes a closer look at the valuation squeeze underlying the current selloff.

Jun 07 2022

The Bear Market In P/E Multiples Rages On

  • Jun 7, 2022

Throughout most of the COVID rebound, market bulls told investors (correctly) to ignore valuations and simply ride the liquidity tide. But with that tide now flowing out (and at possibly its fastest speed ever), guess what the one-time liquidity junkies see as a reason to stay in stocks? Yes, cheaper valuations!

Jun 06 2022

Research Preview: P/E Multiple Compression In 2022

  • Jun 6, 2022

Stock market corrections are the result of falling valuations and/or falling earnings, and when both conditions appear together, investors are in for a rough ride. Thus far, the 2022 selloff has been confined to compressing P/E ratios, and we launched a research project to take a closer look at shrinking stock valuations in this market downdraft.

May 13 2022

Some Perspective For Dip Buyers

  • May 13, 2022

Losses in the Russell 2000 Growth Index and the NYFANG+ Index have topped 40%, and the only true equity rockstar, spawned by a 13-year secular bull market, has watched her fund’s value drop by more than three-quarters. Yet there’s still a televised debate as to whether this decline is even a bear! Could there be a more devious creature on the face of the planet?

 

Apr 22 2022

The “Donut” Might Be Healthier Than You Think

  • Apr 22, 2022

Lent ended last week, allowing Christians to resume the intake of unhealthy foods. But rather than a nice, thick T-Bone steak, we’d suggest sampling one of the few items that’s fattened investors’ accounts in 2022—the Donut!

 

Apr 06 2022

A Tale Of Two CDs

  • Apr 6, 2022

Investors considering a position in the Consumer Discretionary sector need to be aware of what they are buying: a basket in which one-half consists of mature, modestly-valued consumer brands, while the other half is two mega caps with excellent growth profiles and high absolute valuations. It would be a mistake to view this sector as a homogeneous set of companies.

Mar 24 2022

The Bull Visits The Vet

  • Mar 24, 2022

Just after yesterday’s close, we loaded our precocious bull into an SUV and drove to the local veterinary clinic for a two-year checkup.

Our bovine buddy drew some sympathetic stares while we were waiting in the lobby. Noting our bull’s droopy eyelids and gray facial hair, an assistant informed us, “You know, you didn’t actually need to bring him here. We now have a mobile euthanasia service.” We just smiled, and waited for the veterinarian, who is said to be a specialist in this new super-species of bull.

Mar 05 2022

Reversion, But To Where?

  • Mar 5, 2022

The concept of “mean reversion” used to help build massive fortunes. Of late, a better mantra has been “maximum attraction,” as valuations and bullish psychology have matched or surpassed excesses of the Y2K Tech bubble. Meanwhile, corporate profit margins, once dubbed “the most mean-reverting series in finance” by Jeremy Grantham, have now topped those seen near the Y2K top by more than 50%.

Feb 05 2022

Bubble Or Not? Two Valuation Takes

  • Feb 5, 2022

In early 2018, we thought the market was expensive, but certainly not a bubble. Today, the trouble is not just high P/E multiples, but the sustainability of the “E” itself—with profit margins nearly 20% higher than ever before. Whether one believes U.S. Large Caps are engulfed in a bubble or not, we have a P/E ratio for you.

Jan 19 2022

Speculating In “The Nebs”

  • Jan 19, 2022

One measure of a bubbly bull market is the degree of speculative fervor embedded in the prices of companies with nebulous, indeterminate, or even nonexistent intrinsic values. Since the bear market low in March 2020, speculative manias have evolved in a menagerie of asset classes including Innovators & Disruptors, SPACs, meme stocks, crypto currencies, and NFTs. Based on the breadth of valuation extremes across numerous and diverse assets, this bull market may rank second to none.

Dec 16 2021

Discretionary Durables: A Bubble In Fun

  • Dec 16, 2021

Extremely loose monetary and fiscal policies during the pandemic have created distortions and disequilibria throughout the economy. The most visible bubbles may be in financial markets, evidenced by the boundless valuations applied to visionary startups and the speculative fascination for digital assets of all types. This report examines a bubble of a different kind; not a financial bubble but rather a real-world bubble in “fun”. Producers of recreational goods are flourishing during the pandemic, posting massive sales gains and a tripling of net income, yet selling for miniscule valuations.

Dec 06 2021

Research Preview: Discretionary Durables

  • Dec 6, 2021

While retail spending has boosted staples and durables alike, we believe that discretionary durables have been the prime beneficiary of changing lifestyles and spending patterns, with skyrocketing sales and inventory outages that may not reach equilibrium even in 2022. 

Oct 15 2021

Long-Term Returns: You Wanted The Best, You Got The Best!

  • Oct 15, 2021

In a possible sign we’re not getting enough oxygen at current valuation altitudes, we decided to replace the usual mean-reversion technique with a much friendlier approach that we’ve dubbed “maximum attraction.”

Oct 07 2021

Valuations And The Earnings Recovery

  • Oct 7, 2021

Analysts at Standard & Poor’s will soon confirm what’s been known for several months: The earnings downturn associated with the COVID recession was the shallowest and shortest of any recession-related EPS decline.

Sep 08 2021

Not Overthinking Small Caps

  • Sep 8, 2021

There are some positive cyclical influences for Small Caps, like higher inflation and deeply negative real interest rates. But in our minds, the valuation spread versus Large Caps is more important. 

Sep 08 2021

What’s Your “Number?”

  • Sep 8, 2021

Those in their peak earning years (40s and 50s) who’ve also enjoyed the stock market’s windfall gains are very likely to have seen their annual expenses climb much higher than the Consumer Price Index over the last several years.

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

Big Time

  • Aug 6, 2021

Market environments are driven not just by industry preferences, but also by a bias toward the very largest companies. We have developed a new set of groups composed of the 10 largest companies from each sector. With several of these baskets sporting positive rankings, we felt a closer look was in order.

Jul 08 2021

2020 Post-Mortem

  • Jul 8, 2021

This summer marks the first anniversary, not of the COVID-19 stock-market low, itself, but of the much belated “confirmation” of that low.

Jun 05 2021

The Global EPS Rebound

  • Jun 5, 2021

For years, we’ve noted the increasing valuation gap between domestic and foreign stocks. And for years, we contended that the most likely catalyst for a narrowing of that gap would be a recession-induced cyclical bear market in stocks. Evidently the 2020 bear market was not big enough to do the job.

May 07 2021

New Era Valuations?

  • May 7, 2021

We understand the various rationale for the upward shift in equity valuations seen over the last quarter century or so. Unfortunately, wiping away all market history prior to 1995 does not make stock valuations appear significantly less inflated. 

May 07 2021

Young Bull, Old Threat

  • May 7, 2021

By our count, the current bull market is the 13th of the postwar period. The 88% gain achieved by the S&P 500 in less than 14 months already places this bull sixth in terms of cumulative gains. We considered it a hindrance that this bull commenced from higher valuation levels than any other in history. Instead, they seem to have provided a head-start. 

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.”