Top Strategists See Bull Continuing To Run

While many people are wondering whether the bull market is running out of steam, Jim Paulsen and some other top strategists think it has a ways to go.

In a piece for MarketWatch, Paulsen tells Michael Brush of Brush Up on Stocks that he thinks we’re probably only halfway through the current economic expansion. “I don’t care how slow the economy grows,” he said. “If the expansion lasts for another five years, stocks will be a lot higher.”

Bob Doll, meanwhile, says that the gains may be bumpy, but he expects stocks to continue to rise. He doesn’t think Federal Reserve rate hikes would mean imminent trouble for equities. “The Fed has been our best friend and eventually it will be our worst enemy,” he said. “But there is a long path to worst enemy from best friend. That’s a multiyear process.”

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Doll likes  “mid-cycle” sectors like technology and industrial companies, and he’s high on health care. He doesn’t like dividend stocks, which could get hit if the Fed hikes rates.

Paulsen likes stocks in Europe and Japan because of monetary-easing conditions there, as well as commodity-based economies like Canada. He also likes emerging markets.

Paulsen does have one big concern: inflation. “Paulsen points out that three of the past four quarters have posted 3.5% to 4% growth. So natural bottle necks are shaping up that are often linked to price hikes: factory utilization near 80%, and unemployment approaching the 5% range,” writes Brush. “Unexpected inflation may have investors spooked that the Fed is behind the curve and about to get more aggressive in raising interest rates to fight it. Bonds will sink, pushing the yield on 10-year bonds to 3.5% from 2.5%, says Paulsen. Stocks would correct by 10% to 15%. All of this could play out over the next six months.”