The party is far from over. The early-year rally that on Friday took the Dow Jones Industrial Average to within 1% of its record high, set in 2007, could have a lot further to run. For starters, stocks aren't expensive. The Standard & Poor's 500 index is valued at about 14 times estimated 2013 profits and the Dow fetches less than 13 times projected 2013 earnings. At the market peak in 2007, the Dow traded for 16 times forward earnings. Given ultralow interest rates, the market multiple has room to expand even if earnings growth remains modest.
There's a huge amount of money that could shift into stocks because individuals until recently have favored bonds over equities, based on mutual-fund flow data. "If there is a great rotation going on from bonds to stocks, we may be only in the top of the first inning," says Jason Trennert, chief investment strategist at Strategas Research Partners in New York. Trennert cites the TINA -- or "there is no alternative" -- factor, as yield-starved investors move into stocks.
For starters, are the forward earnings estimates any better now than they were in 2007?
Second, let me point out that money does not flow from stocks to bonds or vice versa. For every buyer of stocks there is a seller, so the statement on rotation from bonds to stocks is point blank absurd. There can be a repricing of bonds, a repricing of stocks, a repricing of both, or a repricing of neither, but there is no flow.
Third let me ask "Does it get any more extreme than someone calling this the first inning after stocks have had more than a 100% rally in a few years?
Nonetheless, sentiment alone cannot time a top. Perhaps the DOW or the S&P do make new record highs. Regardless, this Barron's cover reminds me of a post I did back in 2005.
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Back on June 7th, 2005 I put in a top call with help from Time Magazine. That top call was based on this cover.
Time Magazine went gaga over real estate on the June 12th issue, right at the very peak of the bubble. Congratulations must go out to Time Magazine for that fine achievement.
Then when the cover of Time hit, I moved the arrow to the top. Check out the comments at the time.
Ron Shuffield, president of Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell Realtors says that "South Florida is working off of a totally new economic model than any of us have ever experienced in the past." He predicts that a limited supply of land coupled with demand from baby boomers and foreigners will prolong the boom indefinitely.
"I just don't think we have what it takes to prick the bubble," said Diane C. Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial in Chicago, who was an optimist during the 90's. "I don't think prices are going to fall, and I don't think they're even going to be flat."
"I look at this as a short-term investment," said Mr. Farquharson, 36, who works for a venture capital firm, "and plan to unload it as soon as things look dangerous."
Supposedly we are only in "the first inning" of a rally. Hmm. Are stocks supposed to rise 900% more? This may not be "the top" but it's close enough for me. I'm calling it.