If you think the economy is going to keep humming along, then buy small caps, as they look set to gain the most from that scenario, at least according to Leuthold group. Small caps look likely to benefit disproportionately from the rising inflation and higher appetite for risky assets that accompany a strong economy. That said, small caps have lagged large caps for the last decade, so there is some reason to be skeptical about this call. Accordingly, “If 2020 should prove difficult for earnings growth, we would expect large-caps to maintain their earnings growth superiority”.
FINSUM: We can see the economy continuing to roll, but we have a harder time seeing inflation jumping up. We think the status quo will continue.
At this point it might seem natural to think that the stock market simply rises a bit everyday. Stocks have been so steady and so quiet for so long that it is almost disconcerting. The current “quiet” streak is one of the longest ever. The current number of days without a 1% move is the sixth longest streak since 1969 and the third longest since 1995. One analyst described the situation this way, saying “Right now it’s very, very tough to fight this trend … There’s a reinvigoration in the idea that we will see better growth”.
FINSUM: The huge rise in stocks from the Crisis through the last decade was generally characterized by steadiness. We don’t see this as any surprise.
The stage was set for Goldman to knock it out of the park. JP Morgan had just released the best US bank earnings ever and other banks were looking strong heading into earnings season. Goldman has a new CEO and has made big changes to its business. It felt like this might be the start of a new era for the bank signified by some great earnings. Instead, it all fell flat. Goldman’s net income fell a whopping 26% and missed earnings per share estimates by a mile. That said, revenues did rise 23%, but litigation costs hurt the bottom line.
FINSUM: It wasn’t meant to be this quarter, and don’t be fooled by the big revenue growth as it mostly came from a huge surge in fixed income revenue, which is not sustainable quarter to quarter.
If you are looking for dividends in this low rate world, you still have some good options. What about dividend growth stocks? They can be a nice investment in a low rate market, but where to look? Healthcare and tech stocks look like a great place. Analysts think dividends in those sectors will rise 10% and 9% respectively, handily outperforming dividend-focused sectors like utilities and REITs. Healthcare looks particularly healthy. Check out Abbvie (5.3% yield), Gilead 3.9%), Pfizer (3.9%), and Eli Lilly (2.2%).
FINSUM: Profits in healthcare have been ballooning and executives seem to be quite focused on returning money to shareholders.
The election may still be ten months away, but the whole year is likely to be framed by it, markets being no exception. With that in mind, Morgan Stanley has some advice for investors. The first thought they offer is that in this case, being reactive is probably better than being proactive. If you reflect on 2016, everyone thought that a Trump victory would hurt stocks. The exact opposite happened. In this case, don’t assume a Democrat victory would be bad. Accordingly, it may be wise to wait until the election and then allocate as seems fit at that time. The other thing to bear in mind is that a Democratic sweep could be surprisingly good for stocks. According to Morgan Stanley, ““We would expect that a Democratic sweep in 2020 could deliver the greatest impulse to the economy” because of its greater odds of bringing a fiscal stimulus than when the government is divided between parties.
FINSUM: We really like this line of reasoning from MS.