"Is now a good time to come off the stock market sidelines?" I'm getting that question a lot lately considering that the market is clearly much more expensive than it was a year ago and that many investors are still sitting on the sidelines in cash.
In fact, according to BlackRock's recent Investor Pulse survey of 400 Americans, U.S. investors continue to hold a sizable percentage of their assets in low- or no-return cash investments.
While I wouldn't say now is a bad time to enter the stock market and I don't believe equities are in a bubble, I would be a little bit opportunistic when entering the market today.
Stocks are still reasonably valued and cheap compared to the bonds; but there are parts of the market that look a bit more stretched. As I mentioned this week in a BlackRock video, there are two equity segments where I would be comfortable putting money to work now:
1.) Cyclical sectors like technology. While the tech sector's growth is much slower than in the past, I see value, if not excitement, in the sector. Tech stocks are reasonably priced and typically carry little debt, making the sector less vulnerable to rising interest rates than its counterparts. And within the sector, I especially like larger firms, part of my general preference for large and mega-cap stocks.
2.) International equities. Generally, stocks in most overseas markets look much cheaper than U.S. equities.
At the same time, I would be more nervous about putting new money to work in these three segments:
1.) U.S. small- and mid-cap stocks, which have had a very big run already.
2.) U.S. consumer discretionary companies - including retailers, hotels and restaurants - because I think they're dependent upon a consumer that hasn't fully come back yet.
3.) Defensive sectors like utilities, which are likely to suffer if interest rates rise further in 2014.
What's your take on where to enter the market today?
Russ Koesterich, CFA, is the Chief Investment Strategist for BlackRock and iShares Chief Global Investment Strategist. He is a regular contributor to The Blog and you can find more of his posts here.
Source: BlackRock Investment Strategy Group Research