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2022 Investment Outlook Part 2 – Stocks & Bonds

Stocks are priced for perfection. Bonds trade at historically low yields despite 7% inflation. What could go wrong?

As fiscal and monetary support for the economy and markets wane, valuation extremes are in the crosshairs. While the setup for 2022 is…

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Stocks are priced for perfection. Bonds trade at historically low yields despite 7% inflation. What could go wrong?

As fiscal and monetary support for the economy and markets wane, valuation extremes are in the crosshairs. While the setup for 2022 is not looking as friendly as 2021, we must realize the environment can change quickly.

For more on the macroeconomic drivers supporting this forecast, please read Part 1 of our 2022 Investment Outlook – Tailwinds Shift To Headwinds.

2022 Investment Outlook for Stocks

Valuations

As shown below, as we have highlighted in many articles, valuations are at or near record levels. While nothing limits valuations from rising further, we must consider a reversion to the mean in many cases can result in losses of greater than 40%.

pe valuations

Complicating the valuation story is inflation. The graph below shows that historically periods of low inflation or deflation or inflation running greater than 5% are accompanied by CAPE readings of 25 or less. The current reading is 40.

inflation cape valuations

The graph below uses three popular valuation techniques to quantify longer-term future returns. Based on the data, the ten-year outlook is for low single-digit returns at best. The second graph uses CAPE in a similar fashion to show the 20-year outlook is not much better. While our analysis may seem bearish, we reiterate that nothing says valuations cannot continue to stretch further.

tobin cape market cap to gdp
20 year returns valuations

Profit Margins

Corporate profit margins rose to record levels in 2021. Many companies were able to push higher costs onto consumers. At the same time, they were the ultimate beneficiaries of excessive government spending.

As we show below, corporate profits as a percentage of GDP are at the peak of the last decade and well above the 60-year trend leading to the financial crisis. A reversion back to the trend line would result in a 3% decline in profit margins. It is worth considering profit margins tend to revert to and through the trend line. A reversion back to the lows of 2009 and 2002 portends a 50% cut into profit margins. With valuations already at extremes, profit weakness would not support lofty expectations.

corporate profit margins

The Tail Wagging The Dog- Stock Options

This is where the analysis gets tricky. The graph below from Goldman Sachs shows more volume trading in stock options than the underlying stocks. Options are inherently highly leveraged and volatile. As the amount of options grows versus the shares outstanding, options become the tail wagging the dog.

stock options volumes

As we learned over the last two years, dealer hedging of options positions can result in great rallies. Conversely, as we watched in the second half of 2021, the options expiration period was not an investor’s best friend.

Forecasting how options trading might affect stock prices is nearly impossible for a 2022 investment outlook. That said, options have and will continue to influence the market significantly.

One way to track potential volatility is with Gamma flip levels. Gamma helps us understand how dealers hedge options and react by buying or selling the underlying stocks to maintain hedges. SimpleVisor subscribers receive Viking Analytics weekly Gamma Band Update to help them with this task. The graph below from a recent edition shows recommended allocations based on the Gamma of S&P 500 options.

gamma viking analytics

2022 Investment Outlook for Bonds 

The outlook for bonds is equally tricky. If you had asked most bond traders a year ago where they thought bond yields would be if inflation approached 7%, most would have said much higher than current levels.

Inflation and Growth Drive Bond Yields

The graph below from Longview Economics show bond yields are abnormally low given the level of inflation. Per the historical relationship between 10-year UST yields and inflation, the 10-year yield should be 4-7%.

inflation and yields

To help explain this anomaly, we must consider that bond traders tend to look at inflation beyond a year or two when determining value. Low expected inflation or deflation helps justify negative real yields today. Currently, TIPs markets imply 2.48% inflation for the next ten years.    Bond traders must be confident inflation is transitory. If persistently high inflation becomes more likely, bond yields could rise quickly.  

Economic growth over the next ten years is likely to be 2% or lower based on productivity and demographic trends. The Fed’s long-range forecast is 1.6-2.2%. The graph below shows the trends for GDP, and yields have been lower for the last 40 years. Note the declining yield trend is steeper than GDP. Some of this is due to the Fed’s influence on rates.  

gdp and yields

The Fed

As noted in Part 1 of the 2022 Investment outlook, the Fed has been buying nearly 100% of what the Treasury is issuing. To wit- “the Fed has bought nearly $5 trillion of bonds since the pandemic began. In doing so, it came close to absorbing 100% of the net new debt issuance from the government.”

Banks Are Flush With Cash

The graphs below help explain a third important factor keeping yields low. The bottom chart shows deposits at commercial banks are growing much faster than banks are lending money. The banks need to invest deposits, and since they are not lending them out, they frequently invest in U.S. Treasury securities. The upper graph shows the statistically strong correlation (R-squared .76) between the ratio of loans and leases to deposits versus ten-year Treasury yields.  Unless the banks are going to start significantly ramping up lending, which we doubt, expect current trends to continue, thus supporting low yields.

fed banks loans leases deposits

Lower Yields

We think inflation is in the process of peaking. Shortages and supply line problems are slowly diminishing. At the same time, demand is normalizing, and there is little fiscal stimulus on the horizon to boost demand further. We offer a big disclaimer. The current environment is anything but typical. While we think inflation will ease, we are mindful that factors, such as rising wages may keep it elevated.

Yields have trended lower for the past 30 years, following economic growth. We think those trends continue in the year ahead.

Some will counter that if the Fed is not buying bonds who will? We do not know, but as we conclude in Taper is Coming: Got Bonds?: “Currently, yields are close to their cycle highs. If we believe the Fed is nearing tapering, yields could be peaking. Based on prior QE taper experiences, a yield decline of 1% or even more may be in store for the next six months to a year if the Fed is, in fact, on the doorsteps of tapering.”

The graph below from the article shows yields tend to fall after periods of QE and when they are reducing their balance sheet (QT) as circled. QT is currently being discussed by Fed members per the two headlines below.

  • BOSTIC SAYS FED COULD EASILY PULL $1.5 TRILLION OF “EXCESS LIQUIDITY” FROM FINANCIAL SYSTEM, THEN WATCH MARKET REACTION FOR FURTHER BALANCE SHEET REDUCTIONS
  • MESTER: ABLE TO LET BAL SHEET TO RUN DOWN FASTER THAN LAST TIME
fed taper qe qt

An ISM Reading That May Make You Rethink Your Stock/Bond Allocations

In a recent daily Commentary we wrote the following. This quick note provides another reason yields may fall in the coming months.

The ISM Manufacturing Index was below expectations at 58.7, an 11-month low. Notably, the prices paid index fell sharply from 82.4 to 68.2, and supplier delivery times fell to a four-month low. The data provide signals that inflationary pressures are fading, at least for the time being.

The first graph below, from Stouff Capital, shows the strong correlation between the difference of new orders and inventories compared to the ISM Index. The differential leads the ISM index by three months. If the correlation holds up, we should see a steep decline in ISM in the coming three months.

ism manufacturing

The following two graphs show how ISM’s decline may affect bond yields. The first graph below, courtesy of Brett Freeze, shows a statistically strong correlation between nominal ISM (inflation-adjusted) and ten-year UST yields. If the nominal ISM is reversing as it appears, we should expect lower yields. The second graph, courtesy of Mott Capital, charts the correlation of the ISM Prices paid index and inflation expectations. Assuming manufacturing inflation is finally cooling off, inflation expectations should follow. Lower inflation expectations will help reduce bond yields.

ism and yields
ism and tips

Rotations Matter

In 2021, the key to success was understanding when inflationary narratives would dictate market conditions and when deflation narratives drove investors. We do not think 2022 will be as simple.

It is quite possible that value versus growth and low beta versus high beta may be the rotations to key on. As we wrote in An Investment Playbook for Thriving During the Next Market Crash:

“We think it’s likely that value stocks will significantly outperform growth stocks in the event of a sizeable drawdown. Timing the transition from growth to value will be difficult, but such a rotation will likely prove invaluable. You may want to keep the 2000 investment playbook handy.”

Summary

If we learned anything from 2020, the future is far from certain. Not only should we expect the unexpected, but the market reactions to the unexpected may be vastly different than what many assume.

What we discuss above is our best guess as of today. We may be right in some areas and wrong in others. More importantly, we must adjust our expectations as political, economic, and monetary conditions and investor sentiment change.

Navigating 2021 in hindsight was easy. However, a year ago, the outlook was daunting. No doubt 2022 will offer us both risk and rewards. Limiting risks and reaping the rewards will help traverse what offers to be another tricky year.

Maybe, more importantly, relying on trusted economic and market models and not letting psychological biases hinder investment decisions may prove to be the best advice we can offer.

The post 2022 Investment Outlook Part 2 – Stocks & Bonds appeared first on RIA.

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About 35% of People Who Received Placebo in Vaccine Trials Report Side Effects and More COVID-19 News

According to a recent study conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 76 percent of the adverse side effects (such as fatigue or headache) that people experienced after receiving their first COVID-19…

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About 35% of People Who Received Placebo in Vaccine Trials Report Side Effects and More COVID-19 News

The placebo effect is where a person who received a placebo instead of a drug or vaccine shows clinical signs, positive or negative, associated with the actual treatment. Much has been made about the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines, but a new study found a startlingly high number of adverse events associated with people who received placebos in clinical trials. For that and more COVID-19 news, continue reading.

COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects: Real or Placebo Effect?

A recent study out of Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center evaluated 12 COVID-19 vaccine trials with a total of 45,380 participants. The study found that 76% of the adverse side effects reported, such as fatigue or headache, after the first shot were also reported by participants who received a placebo. Mild side effects were more common in people receiving the vaccine, but a third of those given the placebo reported at least one adverse side effect. The statistics from the study showing that 35% of placebo recipients reported adverse side effects is considered unusually high. Several experts suspect that there’s such a high report of adverse events because of the amount of misinformation found on social media about the dangers of the vaccines and the amount of media coverage.

This is not to say that the adverse side effects felt by people who received the vaccines are all in their heads. People do have side effects to vaccines, but this study reports on an unusually high level of the placebo effect. Nocebo is used to describe a negative outcome associated with the placebo.

Source: BioSpace

“Negative information in the media may increase negative expectations towards the vaccines and may therefore enhance nocebo effects,” said Dr. Julia W. Haas, an investigator in the Program in Placebo Studies at Beth Israel Deaconess and the study’s lead author. “Anxiety and negative expectation can worsen the experience of side effects.”

Four Factors for Long COVID

A study published in Nature Communications identified specific antibodies in the blood of people who developed long COVID. Long COVID is not well understood and has a range of up to 50 different symptoms, and it is difficult to diagnose because there is no one test for it. The study, conducted by Dr. Onur Boyman, a researcher in the Department of Immunology at University Hospital Zurich, compared more than 500 COVID-19 patients and found several key differences in patients who went on to present with long COVID. The most obvious was a significant decrease in two immunoglobulins, IgM and IgG3. The study found that a decrease in these two immunoglobulins, which generally rise to fight infections, combined with other factors, such as middle age and a history of asthma, was 75% effective in predicting long COVID.

75% of COVID-19 ICU Survivors Show Symptoms a Year Later

A study out of the Netherlands found that a year after being released from an intensive care unit (ICU) for severe COVID-19, 75% of patients reported lingering physical symptoms, 26% reported mental symptoms, and up to 16% noted cognitive symptoms. The research was published in JAMA. The research evaluated 246 COVID-19 survivors treated in one of 11 ICUs in the Netherlands. The mental symptoms included anxiety (17.9%), depression (18.3%), PTSD (9.8%). The most common new physical symptoms were weakness (38.9%), stiff joints (26.3%), joint pain (25.5%), muscle weakness (24.8%), muscle pain (21.3%) and shortness of breath (20.8%).

Pennsylvania Averaging Most COVID-19 Deaths Per Day in a Year

In general, COVID-19 deaths are dropping across the country. However, in two states, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the numbers are increasing. Pennsylvania is averaging 156 COVID-19 deaths per day over the past seven days, which is a 17% uptick compared to two weeks ago. The number of deaths per day in Pennsylvania is below what was hit in January 2021, largely due to the availability of vaccines. New Jersey averages 111 deaths from COVID-19 per day, an increase of 61% over the last two weeks and the highest since May 2020. Similarly, New Jersey cases and hospitalizations are declining.

Omicron Surge: Shattering Cases and Hospitalizations, but Less Severe

According to the CDC, although the current Omicron surge is setting records for positive infections and hospitalizations, it’s less severe than other waves by other metrics. Omicron has resulted in more than 1 million cases per day in the U.S. on several occasions, and reported deaths are presently higher than 15,000 per week. However, the ratio of emergency department visits and hospitalizations to case numbers is lower compared to COVID-19 waves for Delta and during the winter of 2020–21. ICU admissions, length of stay, and in-hospital deaths were all lower with Omicron. They cite vaccinations and booster shots as the likely cause. Although the overall result is that Omicron appears less severe, it’s not completely clear if that’s because the viral variant doesn’t infect the lower lung as easily as other variants, or because so much of the population has either been vaccinated or exposed to the virus already. It is clearly far more infectious than other strains, which is placing a real burden on healthcare systems. The number of emergency department visits is 86% higher than during the Delta surge.

J&J Expects Up to $3.5 Billion in COVID-19 Vaccine Sales This Year

Johnson & Johnson projected annual sales of its COVID-19 vaccine for 2022 to range from $3 billion to $3.5 billion. This was noted during the company’s fourth-quarter 2021 report. In December 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the PfizerBioNTech or Moderna shots over J&J’s due to a rare blood condition observed with the J&J shot. By comparison, Pfizer and BioNTech project their vaccine will bring in $29 billion in 2022, after having raked in almost $36 billion in 2021. Moderna expects approximately $18.5 billion this year, with about $3.5 billion from possible additional purchases. Although final figures for Moderna aren’t in yet, they projected 2021 sales between $15 and $18 billion.

BioSpace source:

https://www.biospace.com/article/about-35-percent-of-people-receiving-placebo-in-vaccine-trials-report-side-effects-and-more-covid-19-news

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Economics

Oil Could Be The Haven Stocks Traders Need To Shelter From Fed

Oil Could Be The Haven Stocks Traders Need To Shelter From Fed

By Nour Al Ali, Bloomberg Markets Live commentator and analyst

Oil is starting to look like an unlikely haven from the stocks selloff in the run-up to anticipated Fed tightening.

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Oil Could Be The Haven Stocks Traders Need To Shelter From Fed

By Nour Al Ali, Bloomberg Markets Live commentator and analyst

Oil is starting to look like an unlikely haven from the stocks selloff in the run-up to anticipated Fed tightening.

Traders are pricing lower volatility in the commodity than in the Nasdaq and S&P 500. Barometers of market anxiety for both indexes have shot up recently, suggesting trader sentiment is souring. Meanwhile, the CBOE Crude Oil Volatility Index, which measures the market’s expectation of 30-day volatility of crude oil prices applying the VIX methodology to USO options, shows that oil prices are expected to remain relatively muted in comparison.

With a producer cartel to support prices, the outlook for oil is more sanguine, even if the Fed raises rates. The commodity has ample support, with global oil demand expected to reach pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year. The U.S. administration has been pushing oil-producing nations under the OPEC+ cartel to ramp up output, while the group has stuck to a modest production-increase plan and is expected to rubber-stamp another 400k b/d output hike when they meet next week. This means that oil is likely to stay a lot more stable than in recent years.

The relatively low correlation between the asset classes provide diversification benefits. The relationship between the S&P 500 and the global oil benchmark is weak and lacks conviction; it’s even weaker between the Nasdaq 100 and Brent crude contracts. The divergence in price action this week could indicate that stocks have been tumbling in fear of a hawkish Feb, more so than geopolitical risk alone. That would perhaps offer traders an opportunity to seek shelter amid stock volatility in anticipation of the Fed’s next move.

Oil might have tracked the decline in stocks at the beginning of this week, but the commodity is back to its highs now. It’s up close to 15% this year, while the S&P 500 is struggling to reclaim its footing after plunging as much as 10%.

Tyler Durden Wed, 01/26/2022 - 13:45

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Economics

AT&T down 10% despite topping estimates

AT&T (NYSE: T) has revealed that Q4 results indicated continued users for the HBO MAX, wireless and fiber segments. In addition, the company gained more postpaid phone users for the whole year than the last ten years adding one million fiber subscribe

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AT&T (NYSE: T) has revealed that Q4 results indicated continued users for the HBO MAX, wireless and fiber segments. In addition, the company gained more postpaid phone users for the whole year than the last ten years adding one million fiber subscribers. Similarly, the company beat its high-end outlook for international HBO Max and HBO users with almost 74 million subscribers as of December 31, 2021.

CEO John Stankey said:

We ended 2021 the way we started it – by growing our customer relationships, running our operations more effectively and efficiently, and sharpening our focus. Our momentum is strong and we’re confident there is more opportunity to continue to grow our customer base and drive costs from the business.

Q4 2021 revenue dropped 10% YoY

Consolidated revenue in Q4 2021 was $40.96 billion beating consensus estimates $40.68 but dropping 10% YoY, which reflects the impact of divested segments and low Business Wireline revenues. In the third quarter, the company divested US Videos, and in Q4, it divested Vrio. The drop was partially offset by high Warner Media revenues, recovery from pandemic impacts, and high Consumer Wireline and Mobility revenues. Stankey commented:

We’re at the dawn of a new age of connectivity. Our focus now is to be America’s best connectivity provider and also ensure our media assets are positioned to grow and truly become a global media distribution leader. Once we do this, we’ll unlock the true value of these businesses and provide a great opportunity for shareholders.

AT&T reported Q4 net income (loss) attributable to $5 billion or $0.69 per diluted shared share. On an adjusted basis, including merger-amortization fees, a share of DirecTV intangible amortization, gain on benefit plans, and related items, the company had an EPS of $0.78 topping consensus estimate of $0.76 per share.

AT&T had total revenue of $168.9 billion in 2021

AT&T’s consolidated revenues were $168.9 billion in 2021, compared to $171.8 billion a year ago, reflecting the split of the U.S Video division in Q3 2021, as well as the effects of other divested operations. However, higher revenues in WarnerMedia and Communications somewhat offset these declines.

For the full-year, net income (loss) attributable to commons shares was $19.9 billion or $2.76 p were per diluted share. On an adjusted basis, FY 2021 earnings per share were $3.4.

La notizia AT&T down 10% despite topping estimates era stato segnalata su Invezz.

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