Eq: Total Market
Stocks are off to a very strong start this year, but it is hard to remember a time that they looked so vulnerable. Investors may be happy with the 10%+ gains in the S&P 500, but the reality is that stocks could nosedive at any moment. In a sign of how grave the risk is, we challenge you to ask yourself—what is a risk that could make stocks plunge 10% in a day? We are willing to bet 90% of you said “the Fed suddenly restarting hikes”. The core of this rally has largely been predicated on the Fed suddenly reversing course, letting investors breathe a sigh of relief that the central bank won’t hike the economy into recession.
FINSUM: The truth is that the Fed could reverse its position at any moment, which would probably cause a big downturn in markets. That said, we don’t think they will do anything so drastic.
Investors seem to have stopped worrying about it, but a recession is still in the cards. Ever since the Fed backed off, the market seems to have forgotten that we are likely at the very end of an economic cycle. However, most economists are differing from investors, as the majority are still calling for a recession by 2021. That is the view of over 75% of US business economists, with most still saying the Fed will continue hiking this year. 52% of those surveyed said a recession would start this year or next.
FINSUM: It is interesting to see how out-of-touch economists and investors are. A recession by 2021 sounds very reasonable to us, but the Fed continuing to hike this year does not.
There is a big development happening in fund management. That is change is that fundamental and quantitative approaches are merging. Often, funds are no longer purely fundamental or quantitative, but instead merge the two, creating a whole new category which is starting to be referred to as “quantamental”. In its most simple form, quantamental often looks like a multi-factor ETF that also includes some continuous “human” intervention, such as reducing statistical quirks. However, more sophisticated approaches truly blend the two, using human skill to analyze stocks which are sending promising technical signals.
FINSUM: We are pretty fond of the principles which underpin quantamental approaches as they seem to take the best aspects of both philosophies. Time will tell if the approach is a winner in a broad sense.
If history is any indication, the big surge in stocks that has started this year seems likely to continue. Markets have had a great week and the S&P 500 is up 11% on the year. Prices are only 5.3% off their all-time high. That bodes well because stocks tend to track their first two-month performance for the rest of the year. 64% of the time stocks continue to perform throughout the year just like they did in January and February. The last time the S&P 500 climbed more than 10% in January and February (1991), it rose an additional 14% for the year.
FINSUM: Stocks are in a sweet spot right now, with the Fed having backed off and trade fears easing. That seems likely to stay in place for a while, but we wonder if any stresses related to the 2020 election might start to weight on the market later this year.
The recession has loomed over markets for months. However, in recent weeks those worries have faded a bit, especially as the Fed appeared to back off the gas pedal on rate hikes. However, a new survey from Bank of America Merrill Lynch shows that recession is the top fear among investors currently. A third of credit investors surveyed see a recession as their top fear. That is the highest level for a single worry in almost two years. Economic data is expected to continue to weaken, say investors.
FINSUM: The US seems to once again be the last one standing as the whole world starts to slow. Can we hold up yet again?
Being journalists ourselves, we are always on the lookout for the best content for our readers, including who to read for stock calls. That led us to a site, called TipRanks, which ranks all the equity research analysts on Wall Street. One of the major components of their rankings is their average market return per recommendation. The top ten analysts from returns are: Richard Davis, Cannacord Genuity (42.7% return per recommendation); Ross MacMillan, RBC Capital; Joseph Foresi, Cantor Fitzgerald; Matthew Hedberg, RBC Capital; Glenn Greene, Oppenheimer; Brian Schwartz, Oppenheimer; John Difucci, Jefferies; Brent Bracelin, KeyBanc; Gerard Cassidy, RBC Capital; and Brian Peterson, Raymond James.
FINSUM: This list, and TipRanks in general, is a great way to separate value from noise in all those equity research comments.