Investors poured $4.3 billion into the SPDR S&P 500 (NYSE/SPY) last week, an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that tracks the S&P 500. For the week, ETFs tracking U.S. equities witnessed the most inflows in the last four weeks. (Source: Reuters, July 17, 2014.)
And as investors continue to inject vast sums of money into the stocks, stock valuations are at historical extremes. When I want to see how expensive the stock market is getting, I look at the S&P 500 Shiller P/E multiple (the value of stocks compared to what they earn adjusted for inflation)…and it’s screaming overvalued.
In July, the S&P 500 Shiller P/E stood at 25.96. That means that for every $1.00 a company makes, investors are willing to pay $25.96. The stock market has reached this P/E valuation (25.96) only seven percent of the time since 1881.
The number suggests the stock market is overvalued by 57%, according to its historical average of 16.55. (Source: Yale University web site, last accessed July 18, 2014.) The last time the S&P 500 Shiller P/E was above the current level was in October of 2007—just before one of the worst market sell-offs in history.
But this isn’t the only indicator suggesting the stock market is overvalued.
Another indicator of stock market valuation I look at is called the market capitalization-to-GDP multiple. Very simply put, this indicator is a gauge of the value of the stock market compared to the overall economy. It has been a good predictor of where key stock indices will head.
At the end of the first quarter of this year, the Wilshire 5000 Full Cap Price Index was valued at $19.64 trillion. That means that if you add up the market values of all the companies that trade on the Wilshire 5000, they will total $19.64 trillion. U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) at the end of the first quarter was $17.01 trillion. (Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis web site, last accessed J… Read More
While business conditions are pretty good in the domestic oil and gas business, they’re also holding up very well in the railroad sector.
If railroad companies and related services are old economy, they are still important economic benchmarks and they continue to be great businesses producing excellent returns to stockholders.
Union Pacific Corporation (UNP) is an important company to follow, even if you aren’t interested in owning a position. What the company reports about its business conditions is material and helpful in advancing your own market view. Union Pacific reports on Thursday.
Norfolk Southern Corporation (NSC) just hit an all-time record-high on the stock market. This time last year, the stock was around $77.00 a share; now, it’s close to $107.00.
CSX Corporation (CSX) is not as large in terms of market capitalization as Norfolk Southern or Union Pacific, but it is still a $31.0-billion company with extensive operations in the eastern United States and Canada.
Its second quarter of 2014 was a record quarter with sales growing seven percent to $3.2 billion on an eight-percent gain in volume.
Earnings growth was more modest, coming in at $529 million, or $0.53 per diluted share, compared to $521 million, or $0.51 per diluted share, for second quarter 2013. But management expects margin expansion going into 2015, and the Street wasn’t fazed.
Like so many other large-caps, the company is buying its own shares, including some $131 million worth during the most recent quarter.
By April of next year, the company will have spent $1.0 billion on share repurchases over the last two years.
Notably, CSX saw double-digit volume and revenue gains from agriculture freight, chemicals, metals, and waste and equipment.
The company’s biggest gain was in chemicals, which improved 18% by volume and 17% in sales over the second quarter of last year. This was due to growth … Read More
A few years ago, investors couldn’t get enough of Chinese stocks. This led to numerous frauds committed by crooks in China that has since tarnished the reputation and reliability of all Chinese companies, whether they’re legitimate or not, despite their operating in one of the top growth areas in the world.
While I’m not focused on Chinese stocks at this moment due to better trading opportunities in the domestic stock market, I monitor the country and remain convinced it’s still a key place to have some risk capital invested in. When the broader market understands this, I would expect renewed buying in Chinese stocks sometime in the future.
My view is that the country’s current leadership under President Xi Jinping, who assumed power in March 2013, has a vision to create a country of consumers, just like the United States; albeit, I doubt it will come close to what we see here with consumer spending driving 70% of gross domestic product (GDP) growth. In China, consumer spending drives about 30% of GDP so there’s work to do. In the second quarter, retail sales continued at a double-digit growth of 12.4% year-over-year.
The objective to cut the country’s dependence on exports and foreign investment makes sense. With a potential market in excess of one billion people, it’s the right move.
China may not be in the spotlight for investors now, but you cannot ignore the country. With the recent years of underperformance, I see great longer-term upside in Chinese stocks.
The Chinese economy is growing at well below the double-digit growth of the past, but comparatively, the growth is far superior to the rest of the industrial countries.
In the second quarter, China grew its GDP 7.5% on an annualized basis, which was just ahead of the 7.4% estimate. (Look at the muted U.S. GDP, or flat-line growth in Europe.) Fixed asset investments surged 17.3%, while industrial productio… Read More
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