High Compared to What?

High Compared to What?

Wall Street sign, downtown Manhattan, New York CityLast week Alphabet Inc., better known as Google’s parent company (GOOG), registered a new high in its 12 year history topping $784 three consecutive days. At its offering, you could have bought a share for $50.

Google does make a profit in case you wondered. But more people probably wonder what it means when all three major stock indexes are posting all-time highs. When most thoughtful Americans (fewer and fewer in number, it might seem) are truly frightened by the prospect of one of our two major party candidates becoming President next January, how can Mr. Market be trudging upward as if there will still be a future?

My answer? In the past 227 years since Mr. Washington took office, we have had some good Presidents, a few great Presidents, and an abundance of bad ones. And life in these United States goes on.

We get up in the morning, get to our places of work or volunteer service, and endeavor to make life better for ourselves, our families, and even the lives of strangers we will never meet. This is a great characteristic of our nation’s people in my opinion. If there is a problem in most other parts of the world, people might scream, holler, or just complain, but Americans form a company, a committee, or establish a new not for profit to make things better and solve the issue.

In the meantime, even with government growth and zero interest rates choking the living daylights out of the economy, US businesses and public corporations do the same thing because they are just groups of individuals solving problems or at least giving people what they need or what they want. Sometimes it is easier, when regulations and tax burdens are less, and sometimes it is more difficult, when those burdens are greater. Collectively, we are too stubborn to quit working toward our part of the American dream.

Hope springs eternal. Mr. Market seems to be thinking that a new regime probably cannot be much worse (or is it much better?) than we have had lately. He is always looking out at least six months to a year ahead of the present. Will company revenues and profits be trending the same, better, or worse than now? Will the Federal Reserve Board keep rates at nearly zero and saver-consumers continue to be penalized preventing normal growth in consumer demand in the economy?

In early 2000, after we survived the horrible prospect of Y2K, the NASDAQ Composite hit 5,132 as a high. Monday it closed at 5,262. It only took 16 years to regain this summit. Is the situation similar? Is this a cliff?

One fact of which I am sure is that these 3,173 companies’ financial health today is excellent relative to the group’s value in 2000. Of the 100 largest traded on the NASDAQ, 95 have a positive Price to Earnings Ratio (P/E), which means they actually have earnings. That is certainly different from dot.com days, although the average trailing ratios are on the high side. This bullish market is definitely climbing a steep wall of worry! That’s always the same.

(See P/E data from Birinyi Associates found in www.wsj.com as of August 12. Other statistics from Worden Bros., Inc., TC2000, 2016. All advice is general in nature and not intended for specific application. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.)

August 17th, 2016|Categories: Business, Community, Economy, Government|