While the past several months’ reversion in valuation measures has certainly wrung some of the risk out of the market, if the bear market reasserts itself and drives stocks to valuations seen at average cycle lows, downside risks are still substantial.
Our valuation work shows many “garden variety” cyclical bear markets bottom out fairly close to long-term median valuation levels on the S&P 500. A reversion to median valuations would entail a peak-to-trough S&P 500 loss of –21.1%.
The median S&P 500 stock is now expensive enough that we’re able to estimate its potential downside to prior bull market highs! Based on an average of four valuation measures, the median stock needs to drop about –11% to match the typical valuations at the eve of a cyclical bear market.
The S&P 500 lost 3.1% (price only) in August. Based on the valuation metrics presented in the table below, the S&P 500 is 8% above its historical average. The S&P Industrials (excludes Utilities and Financials) now has 20% downside to reach mean valuation.
The S&P 500 gained 4.9% (price only) in July. Based on the valuation metrics presented in the table below, the S&P 500 is 12% above its historical average. S&P Industrials (excludes Utilities and Financials) now have 21% downside to reach mean valuation.