November 22 2017
Are investors more like tigers or African wild dogs?
It appears investors – retail and institutional – have become rather like predators. They patiently stalk shares, waiting for a dip, and then they strike – buying stocks when prices fall.
Consider last week. Barron’s described it like this: “The Dow traded down nearly 80 points on Monday, 170 points on Tuesday, and 170 points on Wednesday, but each time the blue-chip benchmark finished off its lows. That was followed by the Dow’s 187-point rally on Thursday, as everyone bought the dips.”
Investors’ remarkable behavior led the publication to speculate, “What if higher volatility, instead of scaring investors away from the stock market, brings them in? In that case, this bull market could still have a long way to go.”
Buying low and selling high is a foundational principle of investing. However, it remains to be seen how successful buying dips will prove to be in a market that some believe is too highly valued.
One measure of valuation is the 12-month trailing price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio, which tracks a company’s current share price against its earnings during the previous 12 months. Last week, FactSet reported the trailing P/E ratio for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was 22. The five-year average is 18.2, and the 10-year average is 16.9. Some prefer to look at forward P/E ratios, which compare share price to expected future earnings. The forward P/E ratio for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was 18, while the five-year average is 15.7, and the 10-year average is 14.1.
Only time will tell whether investors’ dip buying will more closely resemble the hunts of tigers or those of African wild dogs. When hunting prey, tigers are successful 5 to 10 percent of the time. African wild dogs take down prey 85 percent of the time, according to BBC’s Discover Wildlife.
As always, much will depend on the investments selected.
- Data as of 11/17/20171-WeekY-T-D1-Year3-Year5-Year10-Year
- Standard & Poor’s 500 (Domestic Stocks)-0.0010.1520.1790.0810.1320.061
- Dow Jones Global ex-U.S.-0.420.8188.8.131.52-0.4
- 10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)2.4NA184.108.40.206.1
- Gold (per ounce)010.84.72.8-5.85.1
- Bloomberg Commodity Index-0.6-0.94.9-9.6-9.5-7
- DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index-0.69.316.28.3117.5
*Indices are unmanaged and investors cannot invest directly in an index.
*Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association
*S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.
*Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.