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Inside The Stock Market ...trends, cross-currents, and outlook

Jan 08 2020

A New Year, Or A Blast From The Past?

  • Jan 8, 2020

It was during the very first days of the great 2019 market rally that we noted its similarities to the bubbliest of all the bubble years—1999. Wow. We had it in our hands and frittered it away.

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.

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

Charts Are In The Eye Of The Beholder

  • Jan 8, 2020

After last year’s 30% S&P 500 gain, many strategists are now suggesting that the real melt-up still lies ahead. We think a melt-up has already occurred, and the bulk of it has been booked.

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

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

It’s Not What They Borrowed, But How They Used It

  • Jan 8, 2020

Following the deflationary bust of 2007-2009, the last decade was expected to be one of deleveraging. Only U.S. consumers appeared to get that memo, however.

Jan 08 2020

Are Earnings Set To “Gap” Higher?

  • Jan 8, 2020

We are troubled that the bullish optimism has spilled over into the 2020 estimates for S&P 500 earnings. Zero growth in 2020 is probably not a bad guess for NIPA figures, but S&P numbers don’t always follow suit.

Jan 08 2020

Inflation: Not “If,” But “Where”

  • Jan 8, 2020

In the aftermath of the Great Financial Crisis, we reminded investors that it would be historically unusual for the thematic leaders of a bull market to repeat as the winners of the subsequent bull.

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

Rewarding “Perfect Foresight”

  • Jan 8, 2020

During the first five years of our career, we worked for a group of stockbrokers who, by each year’s end, seemed to have been gifted with perfect foresight on the major asset markets. Admittedly, we never saw their clients’ actual returns.

Jan 08 2020

Momentum Across Asset Classes

  • Jan 8, 2020

For those not blessed with clairvoyant asset selection ability, we’ve developed a simple single-asset portfolio strategy that’s handily beaten the AANA Portfolio and the S&P 500 over the long-term.

Jan 08 2020

Bridesmaid Track Record

  • Jan 8, 2020

Here are the historical annual performance results for the hypothetical Bridesmaid strategy.

Jan 08 2020

Bridesmaid Strategy Risk And Reward

  • Jan 8, 2020

We know that risk measurements have become passé, what with the S&P 500 having annualized at +13.6% in the last decade without a single drop of 20%. But the Bridesmaid strategy looks great relative to the available asset classes on a risk-adjusted basis.

Jan 08 2020

Bridesmaid Strategy For Equity Managers

  • Jan 8, 2020

Our work on the Bridesmaid momentum effect dates back to 2006, and was originally based on equity sectors rather than asset classes. Again, the hypothetical approach is to ignore macroeconomic trends, sector fundamentals, valuations, and the like, and to base sector selection solely on the prior year’s sector total return rankings.

Jan 08 2020

Sector Bridesmaid Track Record

  • Jan 8, 2020

2019 was the fourth consecutive year of underperformance by the annual Bridesmaid sector pick. Those poor results have trimmed the annualized “alpha” of the strategy to just +2.2% since 1991.

Jan 08 2020

For Value Investors Only!

  • Jan 8, 2020

With the possible diminution of “alpha” in price momentum strategies, we recommend that sector allocators consider approaches that are more countertrend or contrarian in nature.

Jan 08 2020

Low P/E Track Record

  • Jan 8, 2020

The “robustness” of the “Cheapest Sector Strategy” concept is illustrated by strong results across all rebalancing frequencies.

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?”   

Dec 06 2019

A Tough Tape To Read

  • Dec 6, 2019

Over the nearly two years since the stock market’s “momentum” peak in January 2018, the S&P 500 has gained less than 9%, while the Value Line Arithmetic Composite is unchanged. Mid Caps and Small Caps have made no upside progress during this period and most foreign markets are down.

Dec 06 2019

Are Stocks And The Economy Disconnected?

  • Dec 6, 2019

The consensus among market pundits is that a U.S. recession will be averted and, as a consequence, domestic stocks remain the best game in town.

Dec 06 2019

Lagging From Behind?

  • Dec 6, 2019

As Yogi Berra might have quipped, it’s not just the leading indicators that are lagging… the lagging ones are, too.

Dec 06 2019

A “Best Case” Bear Scenario?

  • Dec 6, 2019

We intentionally curtailed our discussion of stock market valuations the last few months to allow the “dead horse” to recover from the thrashings administered in recent years. Now we’re rested, refreshed, and ready to deliver a few more lashes.

Dec 06 2019

Risks Still High In The “Median” Large Cap

  • Dec 6, 2019

The relative domination of Mega Caps might leave the impression that valuation of the “typical” (or median) Large Cap stock is reasonable. It’s not. The fall rally leaves all major valuation ratios for the median S&P 500 stock in the top decile of the 30-year history, and above the levels prevailing at the September 2018 market high.

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

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

No Place Like Home For The 2010s

  • Dec 6, 2019

We thought we’d get a jump on all the “End of the 2010s” retrospectives you’re sure to see next month. Though not quite yet the official end of the decade, the changing of the “tens” digit definitely has a certain gravitas to it.

Dec 06 2019

Capex Beneficiaries “Delivered,” But Only On Price Action

  • Dec 6, 2019

With optimistic views on capex in late 2017, we built a thematic group of companies that appeared to be potential beneficiaries of higher spending going forward. This group has outperformed the market; but, the capex trend is disappointing and quite concerning.

Nov 07 2019

Can New Reins Take Hold Of An Old Bull?

  • Nov 7, 2019

Three months ago, Large Cap Growth and Momentum were the winning ways to play the market; the long-time resiliency of these entrenched leaders was a cornerstone of the bullish case. Suddenly it’s Value and Deep Cyclicals leading, anything possessing Momentum, of late, has turned toxic. Ironically, this “new” leadership is now the foundation for the bullish reasoning.

Nov 07 2019

Monetary Musings

  • Nov 7, 2019

Among six major monetary gauges, five are now graded bullish, compared with just three a few months ago, and zero at the end of 2018.

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.

Nov 07 2019

Back To Y2K?

  • Nov 7, 2019

The bull market took out another old record last month when the S&P 500 topped the cumulative total return of the 1949-56 upswing. The total return since March 9, 2009, is now 468%. Since the highs of March 2000, the S&P 500 cumulative total return is actually a few basis points behind U.S. 10-year Treasury bonds.

Nov 07 2019

A Short-Term S&P Top?

  • Nov 7, 2019

The short-term path for equities “looks” clearer than at any point in 2019, with economic data having stabilized a bit in the last few weeks, the Fed having cut rates again and resumed balance sheet purchases, and some type of trade deal finally looking more tangible than a 2:00 a.m. Tweet.

Nov 07 2019

Simple Bond Model Says “SELL”

  • Nov 7, 2019

In our minds, the big story is not the nominal new highs in the blue chips, but rather the rapid changes now occurring on both an “intra-market” and “inter-market” basis. In the case of the latter, we have an important new signal from a simple correlation model we developed earlier this year.

Nov 07 2019

Jury Is Still Out On EM

  • Nov 7, 2019

Emerging Market stocks have been swept up in the last month’s rally in all things cyclical and high beta. Nonetheless, the MSCI Emerging Markets Index is still down marginally from its level coinciding with its April 30th VLT BUY signal.

Nov 07 2019

Labor Cost Observations

  • Nov 7, 2019

We take a look at different data sets reflecting labor costs. The main finding is that using Unit Labor Cost as the measurement for the true cost suggests that the labor market is very tight in terms of affordability for businesses.

Oct 05 2019

The Last “Spoos” To Drop?

  • Oct 5, 2019

For many months, we’ve argued that global stocks have been tracing out a major cyclical top. But the global stock market “tape” has narrowed so much that it’s really only the U.S. blue chips that are left to do the tracing.

Oct 05 2019

“Quant Quake” But No Market Quake

  • Oct 5, 2019

Value, High Beta, and Small Cap stocks all captured a few rays of sunlight for the first time in a long while. It’s too early to tell if last month’s leadership U-turns can be sustained, but major market trends are the most susceptible to reverse during cyclical bear markets.

Oct 05 2019

Where Would You Rather Be?

  • Oct 5, 2019

On October 3rd, the S&P 500 briefly traded below the high it made in January 2018 before reversing to close the day higher.

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.