As we close the books on another year, we are now seeing the revolving door of so called market experts (aka Soothsayers) throwing out their prognostications for 2016. Year end oozes of Expert Biases as we gravitate to the smart money people to provide us with some mind candy and certainty on what the following year will bring. The reality is they have no clue and we can confirm this by looking back a year ago to see what these experts where pounding the table on for 2015. So let’s queue of up the Cher song and turn back time shall we? Below are random stock market and overall global economic predictions that were made at the end of 2014 for 2015. My comments in bold.
Hope for commodities in 2015?
Scotiabank economist and commodity specialist Patricia Mohr called for a dramatic rebound in oil prices, likely in the double-digit range and possibly as high as 25% to US$70 per barrel by late 2015.
Oil is closing the year at $35/barrel
David Rosenberg (Gluskin Sheff) offered up some places to put money in for 2015.
American technology and consumer discretionary stocks
Both of these segments, according to Mr. Rosenberg, will be the prime beneficiaries of the renaissance of the U.S. consumer. He calls consumer stocks “a virtual lock” amid a backdrop of firming wages, robust job growth, and the drop-off in energy prices.
S&P Technology up 4.5 percent year-to-date and Consumer Discretionary up 9.1 percent year-to-date. OK not bad. The issue is most of that growth has been driven by a few companies aka the FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google).
The strategist reminds us of something that came into clear focus after Canada’s biggest banks reported a disappointing set of fourth-quarter results: their growth prospects are dimming. Nonetheless, he sees “compelling valuation support” for the group, highlighting its 4 per cent dividend yield.
TSX Financial Services index down 5.22 percent for 2015
On January 1, 2015, the Marketwatch website published an article, “10 great stocks for 2015 from 3 market wizards”
The Buyback Letter: An investment newsletters that recommends companies that are buying back their stock in large numbers. For 2015 the group recommended Yahoo, and Apple
Yahoo down 33.5% year-to-date, Apple down 3.2% year-to-date.
The Motley Fool Insider Value: Editor singled out Iconix Brand Group (ICON) as a favorite for 2015. The company licenses out popular consumer brands like Joe Boxer and London Fog.
Stock down 83% year-to-date
Investment Quality Trends: Invests in financially sound companies whose shares appear cheap because their dividend yields are at historic highs. Their 3 favorites at the time were Chevron, ConocoPhilips, and Exxon Mobil. They also thought Helmerich and Payne have fallen so low that it is “just a stupid buy”. Outside energy they liked IBM and AT&T.
Chevron down 19 percent, ConocoPhillips down 32 percent, and Exxon down 15 percent. Helmerich and Payne down 21 percent. IBM down 14 percent, AT&T down up 3.5% (finally. I was beginning to feel bad for these folks).
I have no words to add on this. I would just want to go home and hide if I had a year like this.
Jeremy Siegel, Professor Wharton School: "We've gone so long. I think in 2015 we'll have our 'first' correction," the Wharton School finance professor said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "People say, 'Doesn't that mean I should wait for that?' The answer is, 'No,' because if it's up 15 percent and then goes down 10 [percent], you're still better off buying today. You don't know when that's going to come."
We had a mini correction/tantrum in August so we’ll give him that one.
Macleans business writer Jason Kirby on December 10, 2014 stated in his article that “Canada’s stock market glory days are over”.
“With oil prices falling, and debt-laden consumers under pressure, investors in the TSX are at risk of another period of prolonged disappointment”
TSX/S&P Composite closing the year down almost 9 percent. Pretty good.
Kiplinger puts out a huge list of the “25 best stocks for 2015”. Not 5. Not 10. Not 15. I’m guessing the logic here is by casting the net wide, the greater likelihood of hitting some winners. Here’s their list and how they did.
- Conrad Industries (-38%)
- Google (+49.9%)
- Cabela’s (-11.16%)
- Rosetta Stone (-29.82%)
- Novo Nordisk (+38.71%)
- Lockheed Martin (+14.38)
- Fujifilm Holdings (+34.43%)
- Restoration Hardware (-16.24%)
- Twitter (-36.94%)
- Abbot Labs (+1.82%)
- Gilead Sciences (+9.6%)
- American Express (-24.27%)
- Macy’s (-45.99%)
- Apple (-3.2%)
- Precision Castparts (-3.66%)
- Charles Schwab (+10.83%)
- Stanley Black and Decker (+12.02%)
- Bank of America (-3.19%)
- Howard Hughes (-13.17%)
- Citigroup (-1.76%)
- Meadwestvaco (+8.81%)
- SunEdison (-73.65%)
- Horsehead Holdings (-87.18%)
- Boeing (+13.43%)
For those keeping score, 11 out of 25 had a positive return for the year. In other words, you would have lost money holding a portfolio of these stocks. What’s telling is the losses on the losing stocks were quite striking. 10 out of the 14 losing stocks had double digit losses, and out of those 10, 6 had losses greater than 20 percent. Remember we’re talking about a period where interest rates are zero and ETF’s are getting blized with money to put into the stock market.
Hottest Trade for 2015
CNBC threw out a nugget at the end of 2014, calling for US Dollar the “year’s hottest trade is about to get even hotter”. Many soothsayers agreed. Goldman Sachs predicts the euro will tumble to 1.15 against the dollar over 12 months, calling it the top trade of 2015. Goldman analysts see the dollar strengthening to 130 against the yen by the end of the year. Nomura's Jens Nordvig is targeting 1.12 for euro-dollar and 125 for dollar-yen by fourth quarter 2015.
Euro/USD ends the year at 1.09 (started at $1.20) Yen/USD ends the year at 120 (started at 119).
It just keeps going. There’s almost a dart throwing feel to the whole thing even though the people making these calls are well educated, intelligent folks. We love it though even if it doesn’t amount to anything. We’re just wired to eat this stuff up and we always will be.
I'll leave you with the same one prediction I make year in and year out. For 2016, stocks will go up and stocks will go down. There will be high quality companies that are creating tangible wealth and managing their scarce capital effectively for their shareholders.
Now go out and find them.
Happy New Year from Sage Investors and all the best for 2016!