Are investors becoming too upbeat on stock assets? High levels of confidence have been seen in everything from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) journeying north of $500 per share to rising emerging market price ratios to increasing levels of bullish investor sentiment.
When advisers begin to get giddy, history tends to suggest that a “top” may be forming. Shrewd contrarians often take profits and savvy traders like Douglas Kass of Seabreeze Partners may establish short positions.
For example, the Investors Intelligence Advisor Sentiment survey recently reached 54.8% bullishness, not far from the peak of 57.3% in 2011. Adding to the concern is the number of “bearish” advisers sliding to 25.8%; the spread between bulls and bears is now the widest that it has been in over 9 months.
Granted, corporate share prices relative to their earnings remain attractive. Yet facts that might be detrimental to the economic improvement thesis have been under-publicized. Jeff Nielson of Bullions Bull pointed out that America recently became a net exporter of energy (e.g., diesel, jet fuel, gasoline, etc.). Does this reality simply reflect the needs of fast-growing emerging nations, or the fact that home-grown profits (and home-grown “growth”) are gone forever?
Less clear to those of us who are neither perma-bears nor perma-bulls is what the impact will be on our investment assets. Should investors continue to ratchet up equity exposure, at least as long as Fed keeps pumping money into the financial system? And why shouldn’t investors covet emerging market consumer funds like EGShares Emerging Market Consumer (NYSEARCA:ECON) or Global X China Consumer (NYSEARCA:CHIQ) if foreign consumption is rising? After all, Chinese authorities are also willing to increase the money supply, as the People's Bank of China said that it may cut bank reserve requirements three more times in the first half of 2012 alone.
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Disclosure: Gary Gordon, MS, CFP is the president of Pacific Park Financial, Inc., a Registered Investment Adviser with the SEC. Gary Gordon, Pacific Park Financial, Inc, and/or its clients may hold positions in the ETFs, mutual funds, and/or any investment asset mentioned above. The commentary does not constitute individualized investment advice. The opinions offered herein are not personalized recommendations to buy, sell or hold securities. At times, issuers of exchange-traded products compensate Pacific Park Financial, Inc. or its subsidiaries for advertising at the ETF Expert web site. ETF Expert content is created independently of any advertising relationships.