Will This Be The Year The Market “Corrects”?
For the last couple of years, market prognosticators have been predicting a market correction. But thanks to the Herculean efforts of the Fed’s 24/7 money printing machine, markets had avoided the dreaded “correction” so far. Or…maybe not?
It’s late Monday afternoon as I pen this column, having just gotten home from the office after another one of many snow storms this season. Can’t wait till spring! Today the Dow was off 326 points, and the index is now down 7.3% since the first of the year. The Dow started off the year at 16,588 and today’s close was 15,372. Not pretty.
Maybe the Fed’s efforts may not be enough in 2014. Mark Hulbert from MarketWatch brings us six ratios that indicate a correction is coming soon. You can read the article by clicking the link below.
If you’re Sergeant Joe Friday and just want the pertinent facts, here you go:
“Here’s how the market stacks up to past market tops according to these six valuation ratios.
- Price/earnings ratio. Calculated by dividing stock price by earnings per share, this is perhaps the most widely followed of all valuation ratios. Based on the previous 12 months’ earnings, the S&P 500’s current P/E ratio is 18.6, which is higher than those that prevailed at 24 of the 35 bull market tops since 1900. (Data before 1957 are for the S&P Composite Stock Index, since the S&P 500 didn’t exist yet.)
- Cyclically adjusted P/E ratio. This is the version of the P/E championed by Yale University Professor Robert Shiller, the recent Nobel laureate in economics. It is calculated by dividing a company’s stock price by the average of its inflation-adjusted earnings of the preceding decade. For the S&P 500, this ratio currently stands at 25.6, which is higher than what prevailed at 29 of the 35 tops since 1900.
- Dividend yield. This is the percentage of a company’s stock price that is represented by its total annual dividends. Since this yield tends to fall as prices rise, and vice versa, the market should register some of its lowest readings near its tops. The S&P 500’s yield currently stands at 2.0%, which is lower than the comparable yields that prevailed at all but five of the bull-market tops since 1900.
- Price/sales ratio. This is calculated by dividing a company’s stock price by its per-share sales. Though it is lesser known, it still is championed by many investors because it is based on data that are less susceptible to manipulation than earnings. For the S&P 500, the price/sales ratio currently stands at 1.6, which is higher than the comparable readings that prevailed at all but two of the bull market tops since 1955, which is how far back data are available.
- Price/book ratio. This is another lesser-known valuation indicator, calculated by dividing a company’s stock price by its per-share book value—an accounting measure of net worth. For the S&P 500, this ratio currently stands at 2.7, which is higher than all but five of the 28 bull-market tops since the mid-1920s, which is how far back data are available.
- “Q” ratio. This indicator is based on research conducted by the late James Tobin, the 1981 Nobel laureate in economics. It is similar to the price/book ratio, except that book value is substituted by the replacement cost of assets.
Mr. Tobin thought this to be superior since he considered replacement cost to be better reflection of a company’s net worth than book value, which is based on assets’ original cost — no matter how far in the past those assets were acquired.
The Q ratio currently is higher than what prevailed at 31 of the 35 past market tops, according to data compiled by Stephen Wright, an economics professor at the University of London, and Andrew Smithers, founder of the U.K.-based economics-consulting firm Smithers & Co.”
Now, none of us know when the markets will “correct” next or if that correction has already started. All we know is that it will happen…as markets go both up and down. The key takeaway for you is that you need to structure your portfolio to protect yourself when markets go south while gaining a reasonable amount of the upside when they do well.
How to do that is one of the secrets of successful retirement planning.
Have a fun weekend…
Your Retirement Quarterback®