Stocks Are Cheaper, But Not Much

While the sell-off earlier this month led to lower share prices, according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, “they are still far from cheap.”

The article points out several factors that led to the S&P 500’s dip, including “worries over how much the Federal Reserve will have to raise interest rates,” and “the wipeout in products that bet against volatility.” It argues, however, that the market’s valuation was at the center of its vulnerability, adding “the median level over the past twenty years is 15.2. Moreover, while for much of last year it was possible to argue that the market’s high forward price/earnings ratio was justifiable since it didn’t reflect the possibility of corporate tax cuts, that is no longer the case.”

The article highlights the added complication of rising Treasury yields, which removes the “excuse many investors were offering for high stock valuations. Bonds are now a more viable alternative.” Further, it argues, as tax cuts and increased government spending are likely to further fuel a heated labor market, the Fed may not back off its planned rate hikes “for the sake of fretful investors.”

The article concludes: “None of this means stocks are doomed to keep on sliding, thought they might. But investors have gotten a lot more nervous, and it seems that they probably should be.”