Key changes from March report
- Reduced S&P 500 yearend fair value target to 4,800 – 4,900.
- Slightly reduced equities overweight and fixed income underweight
- Increased yearend U.S. 10-year Treasury yield forecast to 2.25% – 2.5%.
- Upgrading healthcare view to positive
- Downgrading financials view to neutral from positive
- Upgrading consumer staples and utilities views from negative to neutral
- Downgrading consumer discretionary and industrials views to negative from neutral
- Upgrading High Yield corporates from negative to neutral
Stocks rebounded from down months in January and February as the S&P 500 Index returned a solid 3.7% in March. The gain, which came generally in the absence of good news, left the index down 4.6% year to date as of March 31.
- Little clear progress was made toward a ceasefire in Ukraine.
- Inflation surged and economic activity slowed.
- The 2-year/10-year yield curve inverted, a sign of increasing recession risk over the next year or two.
- During March the bond market priced in three additional quarter-point Federal Reserve rate hikes for 2022, bringing the total to eight.
- The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield spiked more than 50 basis points (0.5%) during the month.
Higher interest rates were a key factor in the decision by the Strategic and Tactical Asset Allocation Committee (STAAC) to reduce the year-end S&P 500 Index fair value target range to 4,800—4,900, based on a price-to-earnings ratio (PE) of 20—20.5 and our 2023 earnings per share (EPS) estimate of $235. Higher inflation led to our increased 10-year Treasury yield target. The risk that high inflation trickles down to U.S. consumers, along with Russian energy disruption, drives our lowered GDP forecasts.
- We continue to recommend a slight overweight to equities versus bonds for suitable investors as still-solid fundamentals outweigh pressure on valuations.
- Our value and growth style views remain neutral, but slower economic growth, a flat yield curve, and earnings set up well for growth.
- As the economic cycle matures, we would expect large caps to resume leadership, though small caps valuations are attractive.
- We continue to recommend a slight underweight allocation to fixed income where suitable as higher rates may put additional pressure on bond returns.
- Although we’ve seen a meaningful move higher in yields this year, broadening inflationary pressures and the reduction of Federal Reserve (Fed) policy support may push yields still higher in the months ahead. We’ve increased our yearend target for the 10-year Treasury yield to 2.25% to 2.5%.
- Shorter maturity corporate credit and high yield bonds (for income-oriented investors) are starting to look more attractive.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended as specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors and they do not take into account the particular needs, investment objectives, tax and financial condition of any specific person. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, please consult your financial professional prior to investing. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change.
Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal. Because of their narrow focus, sector investing will be subject to greater volatility than investing more broadly across many sectors and companies. Value investments can perform differently from the market as a whole and can remain undervalued by the market for long periods of time. The prices of small and mid-cap stocks are generally more volatile than large cap stocks. Bonds are subject to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity.
Bond values will decline as interest rates rise and bonds are subject to availability and change in price. Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds.
Municipal bonds are subject to availability and change in price. Interest income may be subject to the alternative minimum tax. Municipal bonds are federally tax-free but other state and local taxes may apply. If sold prior to maturity, capital gains tax could apply. U.S. Treasuries may be considered “safe haven” investments but do carry some degree of risk including interest rate, credit, and market risk. Bond yields are subject to change. Certain call or special redemption features may exist which could impact yield. Mortgage backed securities are subject to credit, default, prepayment, extension, market and interest rate risk.
Credit Quality is one of the principal criteria for judging the investment quality of a bond or bond mutual fund. Credit ratings are published rankings based on detailed financial analyses by a credit bureau specifically as it relates to the bond issue’s ability to meet debt obligations. The highest rating is AAA, and the lowest is D. Securities with credit ratings of BBB and above are considered investment grade. Duration is a measure of the sensitivity of the price (the value of principal) of a fixed-income investment to a change in interest rates. It is expressed as a number of years.
Alternative investments may not be suitable for all investors and should be considered as an investment for the risk capital portion of the investor’s portfolio. The strategies employed in the management of alternative investments may accelerate the velocity of potential losses.
Event driven strategies, such as merger arbitrage, consist of buying shares of the target company in a proposed merger and fully or partially hedging the exposure to the acquirer by shorting the stock of the acquiring company or other means. This strategy involves significant risk as events may not occur as planned and disruptions to a planned merger may result in significant loss to a hedged position.
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Earnings per share (EPS) is the portion of a company’s profit allocated to each outstanding share of common stock. EPS serves as an indicator of a company’s profitability.
Earnings per share is generally considered to be the single most important variable in determining a share’s price. It is also a major component used to calculate the price-to-earnings valuation ratio.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period, though GDP is usually calculated on an annual basis. It includes all of private and public consumption, government outlays, investments and exports less imports that occur within a defined territory.
All index data from FactSet.
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