Ongoing market rallies have been making headlines for weeks now, but lots of analysts have pointed out that underlying fundamentals can’t explain why so companies are doing so well. For investors looking for a good deal this is creating a major problem, as few stocks can justify their high prices and even fewer are undervalued by traditional measures, according to a recent Societe Generale report.
Round up of investment screens
Looking at a round-up of well-known investment screens including the Merton Model, Piotroski’s F-scores, Benjamin Graham’s deep-value screen and others, Andrew Lapthorne and his team at Societe Generale look for stocks that value investors would be interested, but this month there’s almost nothing to recommend.
“Courtesy of a strong market performance which is not matched by a similar improvement in fundamentals, the number of stocks that pass our quant screens continues to decline,” Lapthorne writes. “We can now find just 26 companies in MSCI World that pass our deep value screen test, down from 145 back in May 2012; only 25 names that pass our quality income screen vs 60 a year ago. For us this is a big concern for market prospects going forward as it seems any value in the market has now largely disappeared.”
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Societe Generale not the only one to note stock market rally
Societe Generale isn’t the first company to notice that something seems off. John Mauldin recently pointed out that the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) is expensive according to literally any metric that you want to use, and that the driving force behind the stock market rallies is clearly being driven by sentiment, not by clearheaded analysis of corporate performance.
Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) research found that the spread in stock valuation was at a 25 year low, and apparently wasn’t factoring risk into the equation at all, another sure sign that prices have been going up because people are generally optimistic, not because the economy is booming.
Betting against the crowd is one of the best ways to win big on the market, but there is always the question of timing. While analysts widely agree that stocks are overbought, they aren’t recommending a short strategy to their clients because there’s also no sign that a correction is around the corner. For a value investor looking for to make a disciplined choice, it’s the worst of both worlds.