Lance Roberts: Imagine that you are speeding down one of those long and lonesome stretches of highway that seems to fall off the edge of the horizon. As the painted white lines become a blur, you notice a sign that says“Warning.” You look ahead for what seems to be miles of endless highway, but see nothing. You assume the sign must be old therefore you disregard it, slipping back into complacency.
A few miles down the road you see another sign that reads “Warning: Danger Ahead.” Yet, you see nothing in distance. Again, a few miles later you see another sign that reads “No, Really, There IS Danger Ahead.” Still, it is clear for miles ahead as the road disappears over the next hill.
You ponder whether you should slow down a bit just in case. However, you know that if you do it will make you late for your appointment. The road remains completely clear ahead, and there are no imminent sings of danger. So, you press ahead. As you crest the next hill there is a large pothole directly in your path. Given your current speed there is simply nothing that can be done to change the following course of events. With your car now totaled, you tell yourself that there was simply “no way to have seen that coming.”
It is interesting that, as humans, we fail to pay attention to the warnings signs as long as we see no immediate danger. Yet, when the inevitable occurs, we refuse to accept responsibility for the consequences.
I was recently discussing the market, current sentiment and other investing related issues with a money manager friend of mine in California. (Normally, I would include a credit for the following work but since he works for a major firm he asked me not to identify him directly.) However, in one of our many email exchanges he sent me the following note detailing the 10 typical warning signs of stock market exuberance.
|(1) Expected strong OR acceleration of GDP and EPS (40% of 2013’s EPS increase occurred in the 4th quarter)(2) Large number of IPOs of unprofitable AND speculative companies
(3) Parabolic move up in stock prices of hot industries (not just individual stocks)
(4) High valuations (many metrics are at near-record highs, a few at record highs)
(5) Fantastic high valuation of some large mergers (e.g., Facebook & WhatsApp)
(6) High NYSE margin debt
(7) Household direct holdings of equities as % of total financial assets at 24%, second-highest level (data back to 1953, highest was 1998-2000)
(8) Highly bullish sentiment (down slightly from year-end peaks; still high or near record high, depending on the source)
(9) Unusually high ratio of selling to buying by corporate senior managers (the buy/sell ratio of senior corporate officers is now at the record post-1990 lows seen in Summer 2007 and Spring 2011)
(10) Stock prices rise following speculative press releases (e.g., Tesla will dominate battery business after they get partner who knows how to build batteries and they build a big factory. This also assumes that NO ONE else will enter into that business such as GM, Ford or GE.)
All are true today, and it is the third time in the last 15 years these factors have occurred simultaneously which is the most remarkable aspect of the situation.
The following evidence is presented to support the above claim.
Exhibit #1: Parabolic Price Movements
Exhibit #2: Valuation
Excerpt from a recent report by David J. Kostin, Chief US Equity Strategist for Goldman Sachs, 11 January 2014