Ready for the next market correction? Today’s drop rekindles questions of whether this bull market is finally over. To be sure, stocks are up over 7% in the first 4 months, extending the 8-year run from the 2009 low.
But the bull market run has resulted in some expensive prices. Regardless of whether one uses multiples relative to sales, book value, trailing earnings, or normalized earnings, stocks aren’t cheap. The Shiller P/E ratio, which compares stock prices to normalized earnings over a 10-year cycle, is at its third highest dating back to 1887. The top two instances were 1929 (before the Great Depression) and 1997 (during the Tech Bubble).
You may have have heard, or likely will soon hear about, a relatively newer investment approach that has gained popularity over the past 10 years called fundamental indexing. Fundamental index vehicles have plenty of aliases such as: strategic beta, smart beta or factor investing. At the core, fundamental indexing is about creating a better index (pool of securities) by excluding certain companies and including others based upon a defined financial filter. It is less about picking the best company and more about picking a pool of securities that has what is believed to be more desirable long-term financial characteristics. The growth of this segment has been impressive to say the least. Morningstar reported growth of the “Strategic Beta” category to $745 billion as of February 2017.