What Do P/E Ratios Mean for the Market in the Short Term? Not Much, Says Hulbert

Is the stock market overvalued? Undervalued? In the short term, MarketWatch’s Mark Hulbert says, it probably doesn’t matter. In an interview with MarketWatch’s Laura Mandaro, Hulbert says that the market’s current price/earnings ratio of 16.2 (using trailing 12-month earnings) puts it right near the historical average of 15.5, a “more or less neutral” valuation. P/Es based on average 10-year earnings, meanwhile, show the market to be substantially overvalued. But, Hulbert says, his research shows P/Es actually exert only a “rather modest gravitational pull” on market in any given month. “What the market will do in the next month or several weeks … you’d have to say valuations are not going to have much impact on it at all.  It’d be more technical factors,” he says.