Barry Ritholtz has a post up spelling out a simple argument for fair value for the S&P 500 being at 440. There has been a little bit of chatter about this in one or two other places as well.
Fair value is not a simple concept. The math is simple; whatever number you want to use for earnings and then whatever multiple you think is correct.
Where it gets a little more complicated is that fair value doesn’t usually end coinciding with any sort of stopping point in either direction nor is their any sort of indication of how long stocks might stay above or below fair value.
If Barry is right there is nothing to say that stocks go anywhere near that low or conversely that a massive decline would somehow stop at 440. Maybe I have this wrong but I can’t recall a time where a fair value number has been a primary factor for the market. There is utility in knowing whether the market is relatively expensive or inexpensive. Generically speaking if the market is expensive the risk of a decline might be a little higher.
The current state of the market however is not generic. The market has had a massive decline and has been stumbling along the bottom for several months now. Based on the market action thus far the days of massive declines could be behind us until the next cycle. Now factor in the fundamentals and the never ending bad news and uncertainty and going down a lot more is certainly possible.
I continue to believe the low is in, give or take a few percent, that there will be more ups and downs but no violation to the downside and I also think we still have a massive bear market rally in here soon as well. I’ve been whistling this tune for a while as some may know. But since I first piped up on this idea the news has continued to get worse yet the market is churning around the same range as opposed to following the news lower. This action makes me more comfortable with my thesis. I don’t view this as a bullish call.
A big feel good rally followed by a run back down to 800-ish will scare a lot of people and generally not be a good thing for most folks. Further, I don’t have a real sense for when the next bull market will be. A lot of people are calling for trading ranges with no progress for many years. Looking out for 12 months is difficult enough let alone looking out for years and thinking a prediction can be correct.