The NASDAQ has solidified its grip on 12-month leadership, rising 11% versus a 4% loss in the NYSE Composite. A surprising feature of NASDAQ’s relative strength dominance is that is has not been accompanied by a rise in relative volume.
Emerging Market stocks are probably the cheapest equity subgroup in the world today, trading at 13.0x our 5-Year Normalized EPS estimate—much lower than that of foreign Developed Markets (17.6x) and the S&P 500 (21.3x). But, EM stocks have languished near these valuation levels for almost three years.
Last year’s economically defensive winners held their grip on stock market leadership in January. This action is consistent with our view that the bull market is an aged, overvalued one that has begun a final “distribution” process that will eventually erupt into a cyclical bear.
In early October 2014, we noted the momentum reversal of Low Quality stocks and a few signs of the likelihood of transitioning to another phase of the quality cycle. The official numbers of Q4 have confirmed this.
We are nothing if not contrarians, but have also highlighted the hazards of “knee-jerk” contrarianism—in which investors are instinctively drawn to the asset, sector, or stock that is down the most in price in the recent past.
Last month’s tactless comments from MIT health care economist Jonathan Gruber contained an (accidental) investment nugget we’ve alluded to several times in the last three years (and, no, it does not relate to the “stupidity of the American voter” or investor).
Whether one considers the post-2008 upswing two bull markets or one ultimately matters only to those who (like us) enjoy cataloging such things. But labeling the 2011-2013 rally a new bull market would certainly explain some of the “immature” behavior exhibited by U.S. stocks in recent months.
Retail stocks barely paused during the September-November market setback, and have lately shot to new all-time relative strength (RS) highs. We were recently asked whether this bullish behavior was effectively an “inoculation” against falling into recession over the near term.