An article published on Bloomberg.com contains a table summarizing the predictions of Wall Street strategists for the performance of the S&P 500 in 2009. They’re a pretty optimistic bunch, predicting an average increase of 17% this year (with a range between negative 3.2% and positive 44%!).
Even if they’re right, the S&P 500 would end 2009 at 1,056, 28 percent below where the benchmark index for American equities started in 2008 and 35 percent lower than where the analysts said it would be now, based on the consensus of 11 strategists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Some of the biggest investors are growing more optimistic as the S&P 500 advanced 24 percent since reaching an 11-year low on Nov. 20.
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Mauldin chimes in:
Ten out of ten analysts in the recent Barron's forecast saw stock prices rising 10-20% this year. For reasons I outlined last week, I think we could see a tradable rally in the next few months, but at the very least test the lows this summer, if not set new lows. Earnings are going to be far worse than any analyst's projections I have seen. And earnings drive stock prices.
Further, this recession is going to be the longest in anyone's memory. It is going to seem like it is never going to end (it will, I promise), and more and more investors are just going to give up on stocks. The buy and hold for the long run mantra is wearing thin. In inflation-adjusted terms, the stock market is about where it was in 1973! If you reinvested dividends, that gets you to 1991 (again, inflation-adjusted). It takes a lot of buying to make a bull market. It only takes an absence of buying to make a bear market.
Could we get a rally after the summer or fall lows? Sure. And it could be a good one. A lot depends on how fast the stimulus kicks in and whether it really has an effect.
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Liz Ann Sonders says the conditions are right for a rebound, though it may (or may not) be too early.