Bank of America Corp (BAC), Citigroup Inc (C): Is the Stock Market Getting Frothy?

Page 1 of 2

Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC)Given that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (Dow Jones Indices:.DJI) recently crossed the 15,000-point threshold for the first time in history, it should come as no surprise that there’s an ongoing debate about whether stocks are headed for another bubble.

The title of a recent CBS MoneyWatch article sums up the sentiment perfectly: “Stock Market Bubble: Red flag warning.” According to the author, there’s reason to believe that stocks are becoming “frothy” because margin debt — that is, the debt that investors use to purchase stocks in the brokerage accounts — is headed for another peak akin to the dot-com and housing bubbles. Here’s a chart to demonstrate the point:

But there’s another side to this story. Enter Josh Brown, author of The Reformed Broker — a blog I encourage readers to check out. In a post published at the end of last week comparing the stock market in 1999 to today, Josh makes a convincing argument that all of this concern is much ado about nothing.

Here’s a very rudimentary but essential thing to be aware of — in 1999 the S&P 500 finished at 1469, earned 53 bucks per share, and paid out $16 in dividends. These are nominal figures, not adjusted for inflation.

The 2013 S&P 500 is earning double that amount — over $100 per share. The index will also be paying out double the dividend this year, more than $30 per share, and returning even more cash with record-setting share repurchases.

This sounds pretty good; what’s the catch?

What kind of premium, pray tell, are we paying for double the earnings and twice the dividend yield versus 1999′s market? I’m so glad you asked — turns out we’re not paying any premium at all. We’re paying a discount. 50% off. The current S&P 500 trades for a P/E of 14 versus 33 for 1999. So double the fundamentals for half the price.

Sound frothy to you?

Josh then goes on to discuss the Case-Shiller cyclically adjusted P/E ratio, or CAPE. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this metric, it’s a 10-year rolling average of the S&P 500′s P/E ratio. Its advantages are twofold. In the first case, it’s the most widely available historical valuation metric you can find for the broader market — do a search for the S&P 500′s historical P/E ratio, and it’s basically the only game in town. And in the second case, as its name suggests, by controlling for cyclical variations in valuation multiples, it makes for a nice, smooth line to include in charts.

But, as Josh points out, there’s a problem with relying on this metric to make contemporaneous investment decisions. That is, by including the last 10 years of valuations, the CAPE overstates the S&P 500′s current multiple by nearly 38%. You can see this in the following chart, which compares the index’s actual P/E ratio to the CAPE.

S&P 500 P/E Ratio Chart

S&P 500 P/E Ratio data by YCharts

Suffice it to say, the current gap is a function of the financial crisis, shortly after which corporate earnings were eviscerated and thus valuation multiples shot through the roof. This trend was particularly robust in the financial space, where large banks such as Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) and Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C) were forced to record massive losses because of overexposure to subprime mortgages.

Page 1 of 2
blog comments powered by Disqus
Insider Monkey Headlines
Insider Monkey Small Cap Strategy
Insider Monkey Small Cap Strategy

Insider Monkey beat the market by 52 percentage points in 24 months. Our beta is only 1.2 (don't click this link if beating the market isn't important to you).

Lists

On the Move: The 10 Fastest Growing Businesses in 2015

Fast Money: The 10 Highest Paying Fast Food Restaurants

Mixing It Up: The 14 Best Music Mashups of 2014

Rito Pls Buff: The 10 Least Played Champions in LoL Season 4

10 Covers of Popular Songs that are Better than the Originals

Must See TV: The 9 Most Anticipated Shows of 2015

The 15 Biggest Box Office Bombs of All Time

10 Things The World Can’t Stand About Americans

Picture Perfect: The 6 Smartphones with the Best Cameras

The 10 Best Countries To Work In the World

A Profitable Day At The Track: 5 Tips For Betting On Horses

Tearing You Apart: 6 Bad Habits That Ruin Relationships

Learning on the Job: The 6 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make

Shopaholics Rejoice: The 12 Biggest Malls in the World

Fright Night: 10 Horror Movies Based on True Stories

Mach Mania: The 10 Fastest Jets in the World

Military Heavyweights: The 10 Countries with the Most Tanks

All In: The 7 Richest Poker Players in the World

Abracadabra: The 10 Best Magicians in the World

The 10 Richest Asian Countries in the World in 2014

Eyes in the Sky: 10 Things You Need to Know About Drones

Rising Stars: The 6 Best Silicon Valley Startups

Military Muscle: The 5 Most Advanced Armies in South America

All that Glitters: The 7 Most Luxurious Jewelry Brands in the World

5 Things You Didn’t Know About ISIS but Should

Empowering Your Money: The 5 Best Energy Stocks to Invest In

The 11 Best Android Apps You Can’t Get on iOS

The 10 Most Important International Conflicts in 2014

Mood Enhancers: The 20 Most Uplifting Songs of all Time

Lover Beware: The 8 Countries that Cheat the Most

Breath of Fresh Air: The 25 Countries with the Best Air Quality on the Planet

Singles Beware: The 8 Worst Mistakes Made on First Dates

Healthy and Happy: The 10 Countries with Lowest Healthcare Costs

The 6 Best Company Team Building Activities to Build Workplace Camaraderie

Ships Ahoy: The 10 Busiest Shipping Ports in the World

10 Productivity Tips to Save You Time and Help You Do More With Less

Grab a Bite: The Most Popular Fast Food Restaurants in America

Friday Night Thirst: The 10 Most Popular Cocktails in the World

The 6 Greatest Unsolved Mysteries We May Never Figure Out

7 Useless Products You Never Should’ve Bought

The 5 Reasons Why You’re Single and Miserable

The 7 Most Addictive Foods in the World We Can’t Stop Eating (Even Though We Should)

5 Amazing Places You Can Swim with Dolphins

The Top 7 Most Livable Countries In The World

The 10 Most Expensive Baseball Cards Ever Pulled From A Pack

The 5 Easiest Second Languages to Learn for English Speakers

Silver Spoon: The 6 Richest Families in the World

The 20 Countries with the Largest Prison Populations in the World

The Top 10 Richest Actors in the World

The 10 Best Airline Stocks to Invest In Before They Fly Too High

Subscribe

Enter your email:

Delivered by FeedBurner

X

Thanks! An email with instructions is sent to !

Your email already exists in our database. Click here to go to your subscriptions

Insider Monkey returned 47.6% in its first year! Wondering How?

Download a complete edition of our newsletter for free!