How High is too High?

What difference 3 quarters makes! The S&P 500 is up 14.2% year-to-date, and 4.5% in the 3rd quarter. After the initial Trump rally, nearly everyone, myself included, expected some type of correction. The market continues to brush-off geopolitical concerns. While North Korea might make for scary headlines, the markets are voting that it is unlikely to have a real adverse impact on corporate earnings.

Stocks sell at a multiple of current earnings. The multiple depends on how the market views future earnings. The question of how high the market can go is to ask how much the businesses in the index are worth.

The good news is that there really is not a limit. If a working man puts $5 in a jar every day and does not die, how much is the jar worth? I can calculate how much you should pay for this man’s savings today, but over time, the answer is unlimited.

This is not to suggest the market can’t be overvalued because it can be. Rather, there is no number that represents an absolute limit. I believe the market is moving higher because we have an administration that is pro-business and focused on tax reform. Fiscal spending is also becoming a factor.

There is room for further gains, but corrections will happen. Volatility is the price of equity returns, and that’s been missing for the most part. Stay the course but plan for liquidity.