Gurus see good times -- unless feds drop the ball
Ken Fisher, Bill Miller, and others say stocks should continue to thrive in 2010. But could government actions, or inactions, derail the rally?
Over the past week, several of the investing gurus who I keep an eye on have offered bullish takes on the markets, though several say upcoming government actions will play a key role in how things play out for both stocks and the economy.
Among the bullish is Kenneth Fisher, whose writings form the basis for one of my Guru Strategy computer models. Fisher told Bloomberg this week that the stocks that usually lead early in a bull market are those that fared well in the first half of the preceding bear market, but then got hammered in the second half of the bear. Fisher thinks we're still early in the rally, so he says he's high on materials, industrials, and consumer discretionary stocks, which fit that description.
Bill Miller, the fund manager who beat the market for a record 15 straight years, faltered from 2006-08, and bounced back strong in '09, also sees more gains ahead for stocks.
Miller told Canada's Globe & Mail that the outlook for both stocks and the economy is better than most think. “There ought to be strong returns in U.S. equities this year. I don’t think that the risks … are anywhere near as great as what the consensus believes,” Miller said, adding that he's very bullish on certain financial stocks. He warned, however, that missteps by the government could derail the rally.
Another top strategist concerned about the government: Mark Zandi of Moody's Economy.com. Zandi told Bloomberg that more stimulus is needed to prevent the U.S. from slipping back into recession. Zandi says inflation won't be a problem in 2010 or 2011, and that the government shouldn't forego further stimulus efforts because of inflation fears that may not come to fruition for another two years or more.
Bond guru Bill Gross of PIMCO also talked government policy in his latest investment outlook. Gross predicts that the Federal Reserve will begin to end its quantitative easing around the end of March, and that other governments are likely to do the same during 2010. As that happens, private investors may well start turning away from bond markets like the U.S., which is facing huge deficits, and start keying in on bond markets that have their fiscal house more in order, he says. One area he thinks could prosper: Germany.
Finally, newsletter guru Jim Oberweis offered a more upbeat outlook for 2010 for U.S. investors. He wrote on MoneyShow.com that the S&P 500 should return more than 10% for the year, because of "OOB" -- that is, "Out of Bonds". Investors have been shunning stocks and pouring into bonds over the past year or so, a trend that Oberweis says will change. "Inflation is coming, and owners of long-term bonds will lose money," he writes. "We believe that as bond returns begin to languish, money will flow from bonds to stocks, which tend to be more resilient in times of inflation.” He also recommends shorting 30-year U.S. Treasury bonds
John Reese is founder and CEO of Validea.com, a premium investment research site, and Validea Capital Management, a separate account advisory firm. He is author of the new investing book, "The Guru Investor: How to Beat the Market Using History's Best Investment Strategies".
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