What does 2015 hold for the US share market? Take your pick
21 January, 2015
Remember the market forecasts this time last year? Most pundits got it wrong, expecting a lower US share market return and higher bond yields and oil price by the end of 2014. That's the thing about forecasts — they are educated guesses at best. As economist John Kenneth Galbraith once said "The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable."
Still, it's always interesting to hear what the 'experts' think is going to happen. With an enormous grain of salt to hand, read on and take your pick as to which, if any, of these market forecasts sounds about right to you.
"We forecast US stocks will deliver a modest total return of 5% in 2015, in line with profit growth. The US economy will expand at a brisk pace. Corporations will boost sales and keep margins elevated allowing managements to both invest for growth and return cash to shareholders via buybacks and dividends. Investors will cheer these positive fundamental developments."
"We believe US equities are transitioning out of a recovery rally and into a period of lower returns as the benefits of margin expansion and share repurchases prove to be already priced in and a return of faster revenue growth becomes a prerequisite for another re-rating higher. We expect faster earnings growth outside the US in 2015 and, with lower valuations and a looser policy stance, we prefer international stocks over US stocks."
"We remain optimistic on equities for the first half of 2015 but fear a significant market correction in the second half. We expect profit margins to peak toward the end of 2015 as labour regains pricing power and borrowing costs move higher."
"We still expect a long lasting economic expansion of moderate growth, which should rival the US record of 10 years with S&P earnings per share growth averaging 6% until the next recession."
"We believe the bias for stock prices in general remains to the upside, underpinned by a growing economy, low interest rates and increasingly, cheaper oil. With operating margins at elevated levels, top line growth is poised to more quickly bleed through to the bottom line, thus supporting earnings."
"In Citi's view, the US stock market appears set for further gains into at least the first half of this year, although risks are elevated with valuations no longer discounted and looming rate hikes. Having said that, there is hope that ongoing easy monetary policy by global central banks can bolster economic activity in areas such as the Eurozone, China and Japan."
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
"Stocks certainly look more attractive than bonds, but the case for stocks versus other asset classes is less clear. So while returns may compress from the outsized gains we have seen over the last several years, we remain constructive on equities. The bull market in stocks is not over, in our view. Note that 'big, old and ugly' stocks could be leaders in 2015 while investors might be better served leaving the 'new, shiny, exciting IPOs' alone."
"The S&P 500 has risen 200% since the bull market began in March 2009 — not unprecedented by historical standards. Buoyed by strong corporate balance sheets positioned to drive further M&A, the prospect of solid GDP anchoring steady earnings growth, and a Fed set to raise interest rates while mindful of incoming data, we expect the advancing tide to continue rolling."
"We head into 2015 bullish for the 3rd straight year. Our 12-month forward target for year-end 2015 is 2275, offering about 10% upside to today's price. The core of our thesis is that we are in the middle of a long US expansion, one that may last until 2020."
"Investors have proven to be more thoughtful about "what could go wrong" than in any bull market we've experienced in more than 31 years on Wall Street. We think that's really a good thing and likely to carry stocks higher toward our target (S&P 500 Index at 2311 by December 2015)."
So, there you go, ten different predictions from ten experts.
Only time will tell which dart lies closest to the bullseye.