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Latest Research

Phil Segner takes another look at the 4% club. For those of you not familiar with this vignette: back in the day, achieving a 4% weight in the S&P 500 had been a rare feat, occurring only during periods of extreme enthusiasm for technology, conglomerates or oil. The blessing of membership soon turned into a curse, with most taking just a cup of coffee behind the velvet ropes before being thrown to the curb because of dramatic underperformance to the rest of the Index.

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The defining characteristic of last year’s bear market was the collapsing valuations of speculative growth stocks. A mania for themes such as cloud computing and disruptive innovation during 2016-2021 drove those names to fantastical valuations and bestowed market capitalizations of tens- and even hundreds of billions of dollars on such companies, many of which had yet to turn a profit.

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The rally that’s kicked off 2023 is internally much stronger than suggested by the major averages, which contributed to the Major Trend Index’s upgrade to neutral in the latest calculation (after nearly a year in the negative zone).

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This year is off to a much stronger start than suggested by the 3-4% gains in the blue-chip averages: Through January 12th, the Value Line Arithmetic Composite—an equally-weighted index of about 1,700 stocks, was up 7.0%.

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We update our annual exercise reviewing how the industry “Dreams” and “Nightmares” of the previous year (2021 in this case) fared in the ensuing year (2022), and conclude with the new year’s industry composition of the Dream and Nightmare portfolios based on 2022 performance.

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It will be years before policymakers know the long-term effects of the COVID experiment with Modern Monetary Theory. However, the episode has helped answer, once and for all, a question that’s troubled psychologists forever: Money can buy happiness! But it can’t buy hope.

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The Federal Reserve has not yet begun easing, but “Easing” is a multi-dimensional event, and increasingly, the outlines of a new cycle (often associated with the beginning of a bull market) are coming into focus.

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