Posted by Curt on 21 October, 2013 at 8:14 pm. 1 comment.


It is really going to end badly,” is the ominous warning that Damien Cleusix has issued to his clients as he believes we are now reaching the top of the secular bull market. Crucially, he sees US stock markets as “grossly over-valued” but that it is hidden from most people’s perceptions because (just as in 2000 and 2007) there are marginal sectors that make the ‘aggregate’ seem reasonable (not to mention the dreams of forward earnings.) His novel approach of apoint-in-time Price-to-Sales comp shows the median valuation its highest in 23 years.. and Alan Greenspan’s infamous “exuberance” valuations in 1996 were 40% below current levels of elation. Today, the big difference with 2000 and 2007 is that government and central banks have already spend a lot of firing power to “make believe” that everything is fine again. He concludes, “there will be no place to hide when the tide turns.”

Via Damien Cleusix,

It is really going to end badly…

What if we are indeed only now reaching the top of the secular bull market… What if

It is no secret that we view the US stock markets as grossly over-valued. In recent meetings, as in the Spring of 2007, we have insisted that not only are markets more overvalued than what they seem, the overvaluation is also general. Ed Easterling wrote a provocative article not long ago on the subject. Those who have read his two books, “Unexpected Returns” and “Probable Outcome” know the quality of his research.

  • In 2000 while TMT companies were reaching absurd valuation, small caps and quality value stocks where cheap. Remember that Berkshire Hathaway made its low the same day as the Nasdaq made its top or the same month as Julian Robertson, one of the best value stock picker of history, liquidated his fund.
  • In 2007, the overvaluation was general but here again you had a sector distorting the various valuation ratios – financial companies. In the bear market that ensued, nobody who was long, even the best conservative value stock pickers, made money if they were long-only. There was carnage.

Today our contention is that markets are more overvalued than in 2007.

There will be no place to hide when the tide turns. No place. The best value managers will lose a lot of money, factors which have historically worked well will suffer a lot too (small caps will be crushed and could lose more than 60% from current levels, high dividend paying and shareholder yield stocks too as they are expensive relative to an expensive markets, quality stocks will outperform but not by much and given the concentration of hedge fund investors in some of them, they will be liquidated without mercy when blood will run in the street).

Margin factors are also the highest against the markets they have been since we have data in the early 90’s (and we doubt they were more expensive on a relative basis before).

In the graph below you can see 3 different valuation ratios where we try to remove the margin and sector overvaluation effect.

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