The S&P 500 may be up 8% this year even as the White House spits up scandal after scandal, but the bull market could still add another $2.4 trillion — based on history any way.
Accord to CFRA analyst Sam Stovall, based on the level of calm in the stock markets combined with the post-election bullishness, the S&P 500 is on track to set all-time closing highs 16% of the time this year, with investors surprisingly calm, with the “Fear Index” rising above 1% in just 4% of this year’s trading day.
“This year’s possible combination of an above-average count of all-time highs, and below-average frequency of… volatility days, implies an above-average full-year return for the S&P 500,” Stovall wrote.
In fact, the stock market has risen a lofty 19.4% in years that posted a similar outcome on the S&P 500. That above average percentage of all-time highs and below-average frequency of “fear” has happened in 17 separate years since 1954.
That means that if the markets this year continues as historically expected, then the S&P 500 can still run up to 2,672 at year’s end, from 2,415 now. An 11% rise—adding $2.4 trillion to the S&P 500, boosting the total market capitalization of all companies on the index up to nearly $24 trillion.
And at least to some extent, the stock market rally so far has more than just expectations of lower taxes and higher regulations backing it.
In the past two months, the majority (95%) of publicly-traded companies have reported their first quarter earnings. And the results have been robust. Earnings of the S&P 500 companies grew about 13.9% in the first quarter — its most dramatic jump in six-and-a-half years, according to FactSet.
That comes as giants such as Amazon reported earnings growth of 38% in the first quarter to $1.48 a share, while energy companies such as Exxon Mobil posted profits that grew 97% to 85 cents a share. Meanwhile, banks such as J.P. Morgan that did actually get a lift from a jump in trading following the U.S. elections grew profits by 17% to $6.45 billion.
Those strong earnings figures perhaps helped keep investors calm even as the fervent media coverage over former FBI Director James Comey’s dismissal by President Donald Trump continued — and keeping the “Fear Index,” or VIX, relatively low.
But as those who dabble in the stock markets may already know, “history is a great guide but is never gospel,” wrote Stovall in his note, “With gains ranging from 4.5% in 1992 to 45% in 1954.”
Moreover, this bull market has already been one of the longest on record.
Still, its hard to ignore history when in other similar stock market scenarios since 1954, the S&P 500 has ended in the green a tempting, but deceptively certain looking 100% of the time.