J.P. Morgan Strategist: Ideal Buying Time May Be Near

J.P. Morgan U.S. equity strategist Thomas Lee says we may be near an ideal buying opportunity for stocks.

According to Lee, 53% of stocks are trading for less than 12 times earnings, the most stocks selling so cheap since late 2008, the Financial Post reports. In addition, 51% of stocks are trading for less than two times book value, Lee says. Back when the market bottomed in March 2009, 67% of stocks were trading below 12 times earnings, and 66% of stocks traded for less than two times book value.

Lee says the valuation figures matter. “Investors have pointed to their reluctance to look at P/E valuations given concerns on earnings visibility,” he said in a note to clients.  “But valuations ultimately mark lows — stocks get cheap enough that buyers are enticed.”

Lee is also more upbeat on the economy than many. He says he doesn’t think the European debt crisis will lead to another 2008-like situation, and, while many are fearful of another U.S. recession, he sees a more balanced picture. “Encouraging recently have been the continued rise in home prices, weekly claims holding steady, the August rise in leading economic indicators, and even the Architecture Billing Index, [a key construction activity], moving back above 50,” he said.