As Stocks Brush Off Geopolitical Tensions, Here’s the Catalyst for a Correction

Where's the Catalyst for Correction in StocksCountless stocks are bouncing off their highs, and in many cases, a lot of these companies are due for share splits.

It’s a peculiar environment for investors in that the main market indices are right at their highs, yet the Main Street economy isn’t performing anywhere near as well.

Stocks are a leading indicator and share prices move in advance of anticipated corporate earnings, but it’s so difficult to be a buyer when most stocks have already gone up like they have. It’s not boom time at all in the real world.

So with this backdrop, I think it’s fair to conclude that an investor has to be extremely careful in the current environment.

I view investment risk in equities as being high because stocks are at their highs and Main Street is stagnant. It’s not a good combination. And with the real possibility of rising interest rates later this year or early 2015, the boom that hasn’t happened could easily turn into a bust.

For an investor looking to buy stocks right now, I would say to wait until second-quarter reporting season begins and we get the latest numbers from corporations before investing.

This market is so badly due for a material price correction, and with the right catalyst, it could happen near-term.

Given the current information, I would view a material price correction as a buying opportunity. A real stock market correction has eluded us for too long since the March of 2009 low.

And while there was a small sell-off at the beginning of this year, stocks have been moving consistently higher for two straight years.

I don’t see anything wrong with investors sitting on some cash at this time. And if earnings come in on the lighter side this upcoming reporting season, then that might prompt a lot of investors to take some money off the table, even among dividend-paying blue chips. (See “Eight ‘Super Stocks’ for a Slow-Growth Market.”)

For the most part, I look at brand-name stocks as currently being fully priced, but not overpriced. Earnings growth expectations are modest for this year, but companies often low-ball their full-year outlooks, making it easier to “outperform” Wall Street consensus.

As a buyer in this market today, I’m a believer in existing winners and trying to buy value to the extent that it’s possible to find.

The energy infrastructure industry is one sector in particular where you can find higher yields and better value relative to the broader market.

On the cusp of another earnings season, I would be sitting on the sidelines, waiting for the numbers, instead of speculating beforehand with new positions.

Investment risk is high, stocks haven’t had a real correction in years, and the interest rate cycle is soon going to change.

While I do think the market can handle some monetary policy tightening, the Federal Reserve may turn out to be the only catalyst for a correction this year. It would be a well-deserved eventuality to a market that’s been running strong for five full years.