Valuation Stretch... Green Bars Ahead!

Markets peak when investors feel confidence about the economy, are impressed by recent market gains, and are comforted by the perception of safety and resilience that follows an extended market advance. So several features generally go together: 1) extreme optimism about the economy and corporate earnings, 2) depressed risk-premiums, and 3) steep market valuations. Poor subsequent market returns ultimately follow, though not always immediately.

In contrast, markets trough when investors are frightened about the economy, are terrified by recent market losses, and are paralyzed by the perception of risk and fragility that follows an extended market decline. So several features generally go together: 1) extreme pessimism about the economy and corporate earnings, 2) steep risk-premiums, and 3) depressed market valuations. Strong subsequent market returns ultimately follow, though not always immediately.

The chart below illustrates this regularity. The areas shaded in red are rather comfortable periods, featuring an unemployment rate below 5% and within 1% of a 3-year low, an S&P 500 price/revenue ratio above 1.15, typically reflecting a period of strong recent market gains, and an ISM purchasing managers index above 50, reflecting expectations for an expanding economy. Notably these periods of comfort were followed by S&P 500 total returns averaging zero over the following 3-year period, with deep interim losses more often than not.

In contrast, the areas shaded in green are rather uncomfortable periods, featuring an unemployment rate above 5% and within 1% of a 3-year high, an S&P 500 price/revenue ratio below 1.15, typically reflecting a recent period of dull returns or market losses, and an ISM purchasing managers index below 50, reflecting expectations of a contracting economy. Notably, these periods of discomfort were followed by S&P 500 total returns averaging 15.3% annually over the following 3-year period.
— John Hussman, Hussman Funds
 
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I think we've got some green bars to look forward to in the next three years when the US unemployment rate crosses back above 5% (and within 1% of a 3-year high), the S&P 500 Price/Sales ratio falls below 1.15 (from 2.16 times currently) and the ISM Purchasing Managers Index declines to below 50. For the full Hussman Market Comment, please follow the link.

I lowered the equity allocation in my Active Asset Allocator strategy from 20% to 0% on 2nd March 2018 and am patiently waiting before I make my next move. Meanwhile, after a few months rest, Gold Trader is firing up again. Get in touch to find out how you can make low-risk, tax-free profits and only pay fees if you make money.

At Secure Investments, I advise individual clients on their pension and non-pension fund investment portfolios. To learn more about my Active Asset Allocator and Gold Trader investment strategies, please get in touch at brian@secureinvestments.ie or 086 821 5911. If you are reading this via LinkedIn, why not visit Secure Investments and subscribe to get exclusive content for free. No spam, ever. Just great stuff.

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