Mike Spychalski, CAIA
On April 30, 2013 the S&P 500 Index closed at a level of 1597.57, which is the all time record high for the index. The new record high in the S&P 500, coupled with the fact that the index is up more than 105% during the four year rally since the March 9, 2009 low, has caused many market observers to speculate that the market is due for a significant correction. This week’s Chart of the Week takes a look at the trailing 12 month Price to Earnings Ratio (P/E Ratio) of the S&P 500 at inflection points of the five bear market corrections (defined as a drawdown of at least 20%) since 1970.
As the chart illustrates, with the exception of the bear market correction that began in 1980, the current 15.68 P/E Ratio of the S&P 500 is significantly lower than the valuation of the index at the inflection points of the past five bear market corrections. To put the current valuation of the S&P 500 in context, the average P/E Ratio of the S&P 500 at the end of the past five bull market runs has been 19.91, and the average P/E Ratio of the index since 1970 has been 16.39.
To be sure, the current P/E Ratio of the S&P 500 by no means guarantees that the current bull market run will continue. It does however indicate that if P/E Ratios were to return to their longer term averages (not to mention the average levels at prior inflection points), there is still significant upside potential for the U.S. equity market.
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