Take Me to the Top

Jason Norris of Ferguson Wellman by Jason Norris, CFA Executive Vice President of Research

Take Me to the Top

The most common question we have been getting as of late is when is the market pullback going to occur? Stocks are up over to 200 percent from the March 2009 bottom and 75 percent from the most recent market correction (of 15 percent) in October 2011. While it has been almost three years since a major correction, history has shown this trend can continue for quite a bit longer. To that point, Cornerstone Macro Research gathered some data on previous market pullbacks which are highlighted in the chart below.


History shows that there have been numerous periods of much longer durations when stocks have climbed without a major pullback. If you simply look at the fundamentals of the stock market, an argument can be made that the S&P 500 can continue to move higher without a meaningful pullback. First, U.S. economic growth is improving and global GDP should continue to trend in the mid-single digits, resulting in continued earnings growth. Second, with low inflation and low interest rates, the valuation of the equity market is still attractive and the Price-to-Earnings multiple of the S&P 500 still has room for upside from 15.6x at present. While there will always be unforeseen shocks, the risks in the system are not as predominate as we saw in 2011 (Europe debt crisis, U.S. debt downgrade, Fiscal austerity) or 2000 (stretched valuation, falling consumer sentiment, manufacturing data weakening). However, risks that investors should be cognizant of are a spike in oil prices due to Middle East tensions, China’s economic growth slowing meaningfully, and an adverse reaction to Federal interest rate hikes in 2015.

What Do You Do For Money?

Earnings kicked off this week with mixed results from large cap technology. Specifically, there was divergence within the internet ad space, with Google growing and Yahoo stagnant. One wonders how long the Yahoo board will give CEO Marissa Mayer to achieve the turnaround. Intel delivered a strong quarter due to PC upgrades primarily from businesses as Microsoft sunsets its client support for Windows XP. This strength is allowing the company to return cash to shareholders through an announced $20 billion repurchase plan. While Intel stock reacted very favorably to the announcement, it was disconcerting that their mobile business continues to underachieve. This division lost over $1 billion while grossing a mere $51 million in revenue (down from $292 million a year ago). Intel’s move into this area looks to have been a failure which leads us to speculate where they will have to make an acquisition in order to penetrate the market.

Takeaways for the Week

  • The start of the earnings season has resulted in no major market moving results
  • Tensions in the Middle East and Ukraine may have a minor effect on U.S. markets, and unless we see a spike in oil, they should not hinder economic growth