In an interview with CNBC, three top equity strategists — Abby Joseph Cohen, Bob Doll, and John Bogle — offered their takes on where the market and economy are headed in 2010. Here’s a brief summary of each of their outlooks.
Cohen (President, Goldman Sachs’ Global Markets Institute): Cohen says she expects GDP growth of 4% to 4.5% in the current quarter. But she thinks that will slow in 2010 to about 2%, as the rough labor market and household balance sheet troubles will hold back growth. She also thinks corporate profits will be less than expected because inventories have already been rebuilt and the government’s stimulus programs will create less of a boost than they have in 2009. But, she adds, the average U.S. corporation is “flush” with cash right now, and she thinks the S&P 500 should get into the 1250-1300 range by the end of 2010.
Doll (Blackrock Chief Investment Officer for Global Equities): Doll says cyclical positives (low inventories, low interest rates) have been edging out structural concerns in the market. Next year, he thinks growth will be better than the trend but lower than what is typical in an expansion, as the consumer won’t carry us out of the downturn. But he thinks earnings will be enough, with continued stimulus programs, to push stocks higher — though in less of a straight line and with less breadth than in 2009. His 2010 S&P 500 target is 1250.
Bogle (Founder and Former CEO of The Vanguard Group): Bogle thinks the business environment will be “pretty good” and GDP will be “okay” in 2010. But he says predicting what will happen next year in the markets “is always like a flip of the coin” because business and the markets can part ways. He’s very worried about deficits and unemployment, and he says that the overall market’s dividend yield is relatively low. And, he says, price/earnings ratios are reasonable based on operating earnings, but they are much higher when as-reported earnings are used. Bogle says we’ll be fortunate to have a flat market in 2010, but he adds that he sees average annual returns of about 7% to 8% for stocks over next decade.