They Got It Right in March; What Do They Say Now?

A few weeks ago, we highlighted how Jeremy Grantham — who quite presciently had advised investors to “reinvest when terrified” back in March — is now sounding much more cautious. And, according to The Wall Street Journal, Grantham isn’t the only strategist who correctly called the market’s upturn but is now feeling less optimistic.

“In March, analysts who picked the bottom were a lonely lot,” writes the Journal’s Mark Gongloff. Now, he says, several of those who did get it right “say they aren’t roaring bulls about the long-term outlook, although their views for the next 12 months are split.”

Among them is Grantham’s colleague at GMO, Ben Inker. “The past 12 years have seen two bubbles that were really good for corporate profits,” says Inker, GMO’s director of asset allocation. “Now things are unlikely to be anywhere near as good as people have gotten used to, because we’re not going to have a bubble to help us.”

Here’s what others who Gongloff says got it right in March are now saying:

Michael Darda, chief economist at MKM Partners: Darda thinks we could be due for a pullback, but he thinks the economic recovery will be stronger than many expect, pushing the S&P 500 to 1,200 or 1,300 next year. “The depth of the recession, the turn in leading economic indicators and the shift in credit markets, which has been pretty dramatic, lead us to an above-consensus view on GDP and earnings, in line with our stock-market target,” he says. But beyond next year, money tightening by the Federal Reserve and higher taxes due to big budget deficits could cause trouble.

Vinny Catalano, chief investment strategist, Blue Marble Research: Catalano now thinks stocks are slightly overvalued, Gongloff reports, and sees the S&P’s fair value near 945, based on earnings estimates and P/E ratios. He thinks stocks could go through a pullback to that level as soon as the fall, but he’s not expecting a correction of more than 10% or so.

Peter Grandich, chief commentator for Agoracom, a Canadian online investment community: Grandich thinks the Dow will likely stall around 10,500, Gongloff writes. He thinks foreign markets offer more upside because they are less weighed down by debt. “He also doesn’t expect a retreat to March lows, but says he thinks headwinds from an aging population that will pull money out of stocks, lost wealth and household debt will keep stocks in a rut in the coming years, churning between the March lows and the pre-Lehman highs,” Gongloff writes.

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