Fundamentals & Valuation
Core fundamentals remain positive, but continue to erode. The slippage in the growth of monetary
liquidity continues but at a milder pace and there has been no liftoff yet in short rates. Secondary
fundamentals have slipped slightly but remain in plus territory. Shorter term leading economic
indicators, which turned up in Mar., are moderately positive on balance.
SPX net per share is running at an annualized rate of $112 compared to $102 for mid - 2011. Thus,
most all of the large gains in the market since the autumn lows of 2011 reflect a sizable increase in
the p/e ratio. Players have slashed the market's discount or hurdle rate to reflect a sharp deceleration
of inflation and a continuation of the Fed's ZIRP just as they did beginning in the 1960's when the
inflation rate began to factor more prominently in market valuation measures (By this token, if
there is faster economic and profits growth ahead, gains in the SPX price level may be subdued if
inflation accelerates and investors elect to scale back the p/e of the market accordingly). The
prospect of faster inflation likely bothers few players now as with excess global production
capacity and slow demand growth, investors are more concerned about mild deflation tendencies.
The indicators with the weekly SPX chart show that momentum last hit a peak at the end of 2013.
The market has advanced since then, but momentum readings have persistently eroded and by
extension suggest the SPX will end up 2015 on the flat side. That is not a forecast, but it is where
we will end up without a substantial positive or negative change to investor psychology. SPX weekly
I have not abandoned the idea that global economic growth will strengthen as the year progresses.
If the global economy does improve, the Fed would likely abandon its ZIRP, commodities prices
would rise some, the dollar would weaken and the SPX could get competition from commodities,
PMs and selected foreign equities markets. Interestingly, China, which has been exporting
deflation for a good several years because of slowing growth and sizable idle capacity, has again
turned more sharply expansive with monetary policy and a change in Its currency value regimen
toward a weaker yuan.
- Peter Richardson
- Retired chief investment officer and former NYSE firm partner with 50 plus years experience in field as analyst / economist, portfolio manager / trader, and CIO who has superb track record with multi $billion equities and fixed income portfolios. Advanced degrees, CFA. Having done much professional writing as a young guy, I now have a cryptic style. 40 years down on and around The Street confirms: CAVEAT EMPTOR IN SPADES !!!