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

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. 

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

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

Heating Up Quickly

  • Jan 8, 2021

Inflation surprises have run hotter in the U.S. than in the rest of the world, no doubt reflecting the strength of major currencies versus the U.S. dollar. 

Jan 08 2021

Triggered!?

  • Jan 8, 2021

In recent months, we’ve highlighted some reasons to buy or add to Emerging Market equities, and at year-end received a formal endorsement from our monthly Emerging Market Allocation Model. The signal triggered after a 30-month period in which the model recommended the relative “safety” of the S&P 500—in retrospect, a good call. 

Jan 08 2021

The Case For “Five Percent”

  • Jan 8, 2021

Forecasting GDP is hardly our forte, but 2021 should see a very big gain in real output. Our current guess is for real GDP to grow 5% this year. Statistically, though, that doesn’t imply that the stock market’s move will also be large (or even of the same “sign”). 

Jan 08 2021

Liquidity Didn’t Lift Quite Everything In 2020

  • Jan 8, 2021

Last year should have been a perfect one for “diversification” to shine. Extremely high equity valuations entering 2020? Check. A recession-induced bear market? Check. Massive monetary and fiscal stimulus designed to lift all boats? Check and check.

Jan 08 2021

Rewarding “Perfect Foresight”

  • Jan 8, 2021

The AANA Portfolio could be viewed as representing one extreme of the asset allocation continuum—in which no knowledge of comparative asset valuations or economic conditions is assumed (or, at least, imparted). At the opposite pole would be the clairvoyant speculator who puts all of his or her eggs into one basket and holds that basket for the entire year.

Jan 08 2021

Momentum Across Asset Classes

  • Jan 8, 2021

In the extreme case where one possesses no other information beyond last year’s total returns, the best single-asset strategy has been to buy the second-best performer (the “Bridesmaid”) and hold it for the next twelve months in hopes that the prior year’s momentum will carry it through. That approach has beaten the S&P 500 by 3.7% annualized over the past 48 years. 

Jan 08 2021

Bridesmaid Track Record

  • Jan 8, 2021

With last year’s Bridesmaid (REITs) having laid an egg, the long-term “alpha” of the Bridesmaid portfolio narrowed to +3.7% from a bit over +5% (annualized) when we first published this study more than a decade ago.

Jan 08 2021

Bridesmaid Strategy Risk And Reward

  • Jan 8, 2021

“Risk-adjusted returns” were all the rage after the Great Financial Crisis. Now that such returns are likely to become relevant again, naturally, there’s little scrutiny of them.

Jan 08 2021

Bridesmaid Strategy For Equity Managers

  • Jan 8, 2021

Our work on the annual “momentum effect” dates back 15 years, and was originally based on equity sectors rather than asset classes. The hypothetical approach is to entirely dispense macroeconomic trends, sector fundamentals, and valuations, and base the allocation decision exclusively on momentum.

Jan 08 2021

Sector Bridesmaid Track Record

  • Jan 8, 2021

We’ve worried over the last several years whether momentum and other “alpha” factors have become exploited to the point of diminishing returns. It’s an arms race out there...

Jan 08 2021

For Value Investors Only!

  • Jan 8, 2021

With the Bridesmaid approach we’re attempting to capture “stealthy momentum,” rather than pure momentum. Fundamentalists—and especially value investors—might find that to be a distinction without a difference. 

Jan 08 2021

Low P/E Track Record

  • Jan 8, 2021

Financials was the “cheapest sector” in each of the last three years, and its significant underperformance versus the S&P 500 has shaved the historical “alpha” from this strategy. Still, those souls who’ve had the stomach to own the Low P/E sector each year have beaten the S&P 500 by 2.9% per annum since 1991.

Jan 07 2021

The Relationship Between ETF Fund Flow & Future Returns

  • Jan 7, 2021

In April 2018, armed with a large number of ETFs and long-enough historical data, we applied our back-testing methodology for individual stocks to the universe of ETFs to determine if the same (or some) of those components could useful for assessing ETF performance prospects. One of the factors we reviewed was fund flow (adjusted by AUM), which revealed that those ETFs experiencing the largest asset inflows proceeded to significantly underperform.

Dec 05 2020

A “Fed” Conundrum

  • Dec 5, 2020

“Don’t fight the Fed” has been great advice for stock market investors over the last nine months. For 2021, that won’t cut it. It should be: “Don’t believe the Fed.”

Dec 05 2020

Wall Of Worry?!?

  • Dec 5, 2020

Many pundits argue that sky-high valuations on stay-at-home stocks “prove” equity investors somehow remain fearful. It’s a nuanced, short-term argument, and there’s merit to it: We’d argue such fears have produced terrific relative values among “SMID” Cap stocks. 

Dec 05 2020

Everything’s Great, And Everyone Knows It

  • Dec 5, 2020

The “Biden Bump” brushed away any lingering technical deficiencies in the stock market, but that happy state of affairs is reflected in extremely frothy-looking short-term sentiment indictors. We are riding the momentum to some extent, but with a lower base-level of exposure.

Dec 05 2020

High Tide?

  • Dec 5, 2020

For almost nine months, an historic Fed liquidity flood has washed away any economic, valuation, technical, or “sentimental” stock market challenges. Nonetheless, each economic disappointment brings hope this flood will intensify. Those hopes aren’t irrational, because when it comes to any measure of liquidity, rate of change is more important than level.