Stocks are not a Bargain Yet

In a recent Bloomberg article, columnist Nir Kaissar asserts that the U.S. stock market is not yet offering the “historic buying opportunity some investors have been waiting for.”

In response to whether now is a good time to shop for bargains in the U.S. equities market, Kaissar writes, “the short answer is no, even after all the recent turbulence.” He notes that the price-to earnings ratio—which Wall Street favors as a stock market barometer– is based on analysts’ overly optimistic earnings expectations and the economy will likely contract more than expected due to the coronavirus.

But Kaissar extends his argument beyond earnings: “Based on its price-to-sales ratio, the S&P 500 is still roughly 50% more expensive than its dot-com low and 160% pricier than its financial crisis low. It’s also more expensive based on other measures, such as price-to-book and price-to-cash flow.” The fact that investors are surprised stocks are not cheaper, Kaissar argues, reflects how accustomed they’ve become to high prices. “By some measures,” he writes, “the bull market that just ended was the second longest on record.”

He notes that that “bona fide bargains abound outside the U.S. where stock markets have been beaten up for years. Overseas value stocks, for example, are already at or near their financial crisis lows.” But Kaissar drives home the point that trying to figure out the best time to exit and re-enter the U.S. market is “famously difficult.” He concludes:“For those wondering how much more room the U.S. stock market has to fall, the answer is a lot more than investors probably realize.”