After the market swoon a few weeks ago (which I said in this column on Jan. 8 and Feb. 5 was overdue), you might be feeling a bit woozy.
You might be weak in the knees, but it’s time to take a big whiff of smelling salts and turn bullish. Even if you are a bull, you are not bullish enough. With the pullback, you might have been lucky enough to catch the market wiggle, but it is time to dive back in.
By the time you read this, the market might have retreated the elusive 10 percent many folks were looking for, but if not, it is time for your portfolio to go pedal to the metal and balls out.
Do you know where the term balls out originated? Old steam engines had a governor rod with ball-shaped spinning weights on the ends. When the engine was running at maximum speed, centrifugal force moved the balls all the way out.
OK, back to the market.
It is time to make sure you are fully invested in stocks. We might be a little early, but, so what. If you buy on the way down or the way back up, it is basically the same thing, since both sides of the V look identical.
Why do I say you are not bullish enough?
Do you feel in your heart of hearts the market could gain 75 percent to 100 percent before the next president is halfway through his or her first term?
See, I told you that you aren’t bullish enough.
Lost in the early March market mayhem was the big 50th birthday party for the S&P 500. Fifty years ago this month, Standard and Poor’s Corp. started the index for the 500 largest companies in America. The S&P 500 index started in 1957 at 44 and has doubled in value every eight to nine years. The last double took just less than five years, from 1996 to 2000, when the index went from 700 to 1,400.
Today, the index is still at 1,400. Corporate earnings, the fuel of the index, have about doubled since 2000, but the price is stuck.
Do you think there is pressure building in the steam engine? That pressure is reflected by low P/E ratios.
Standard and Poor’s said in the March 7 issue of The Outlook, “Based on trailing 12-month earnings, the S&P 500 is currently trading at a 19-percent discount to the average P/E ratio since operating earnings were first captured by S&P.”
Also, the S&P 500 has not started the year off with a lower P/E ratio since 1995.
In March 1995, the S&P 500 was at 500 and just under three years later, in February 1998, the low P/E pressure forced the index double to 1,000. Even Value Line, which is not known to make outlandish projections, looks for the S&P 500 to gain 1,000 points in three to five years.
Participate by buying the S&P 500 index Spider with the ticker symbol SPY.
Or, if you want to go balls out, use the Proshares Ultra S&P 500 exchange-traded fund, which is leveraged 2-to-1 and has the symbol SSO.
Gilreath is co-owner of Indianapolis-based Sheaff Brock Investment Advisors, money management firm. Views expressed are his own. He can be reached at 705-5700 or [email protected]