It would appear that investors have shifted their forward-looking focus to 2014-Q1 in setting the pace of change for U.S. stock prices. Following the period after the fiscal cliff reaction of 15 November through 20 December 2012, they had been focused mainly on 2013-Q2.
Even if stock prices stay flat, this will be a big week for the S&P 500, because this is the week that three of the largest companies that compose the market-cap weighted index will be determining who owns their stock for the purpose of paying out dividends for 2013-Q2.
Over the past several weeks, we've identified three potential wild cards that could affect stock prices in a positive way in the margin of our favorite chart. In just the last week, we've seen evidence that all three of these wild card factors may be coming into play.
Is the rally really over? Well, we can't say that just quite yet, as it happens. To understand why we would appear to be contradicting ourselves, let's take a step back and consider just how we've arrived at this point.
The "sell signal" provided by our power-law, regression and statistical analysis-based method would be found by taking a given trading day's projected value for trailing year dividends per share and plugging it into the power-law formula we've indicated on the chart, then subtracting that result by three times the standard deviation for the current trend that we've also indicated on the chart. Phfew.
Despite the fact that economic fundamentals completely contradict every rally the market has seen as of late, some people insist the skeptics shut up, and enjoy the ride.
Not long ago, we indicated that a 150 point decline in the value of the S&P 500 would be a "clear sell signal" for investors.But then, a week later, we suggested that there might be a less clear sell signal.
Since these values are both still below the level set by 2013-Q2's dividends per share, we can expect stock prices to continue rising in the near term. However that rally will tend toward stalling out as the gap between stock prices and expected future dividends closes up
Since our last snapshot in November 2012, we find that the earnings for the S&P 500 in the last two quarters of 2012 and the first two quarters of 2013 are now expected to be recorded at levels below where they had been expected three months ago.
Did you know that there isn't anywhere on the web where you can go and get quarterly data for the S&P 500 before 1988? It's true, or at least it was true, until today!
Once investors shift their gaze to a more distant future quarter however, we can expect stock prices to fall sharply, as the expected change in the growth rate of trailing year dividends per share for 2013-Q3 and 2013-Q4 are both deeply negative.
In retaliation for the unpardonable sin of questioning the U.S. Treasury's credit worthiness, the Obama Administration is sending a loud and clear message to Wall Street: mess with the bull and get the horns.
The U.S. government has accused Standard & Poor's of inflating ratings on mortgage investments to boost its bottom line, taking aim at a key player in the run-up to the financial crisis. Eric Holder made the announcement in Washington Tuesday.
We find that while recessions tend to lower the number of companies paying dividends while they're ongoing, which we would expect, we find that the bigger driver of what affects the number of companies paying dividends to individual shareholders, retirement and pension plans, et cetera would appear to be the relative tax rate of dividends with respect to capital gains.
Looking at the overlap of historic data and old forecasts, we see that the future vision of investors in December 2010 looking forward to the end of 2012 appears to closely match how things have actually played out over time.
I'm not saying you should have a portfolio of just two or three holdings. But at the same time, I'm not at all concerned with having a portfolio of dozens of holdings that represent every sector of the market.