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Over the last eight months, I have written a series of posts on the market and how it has adapted and adjusted to COVID. The very first of these posts, on February 26, 2020, was about two weeks into the meltdown and it is indicative of how little we knew about the virus then, and what effects it would have on the economy and the market. More than seven months later, there is still much that we still do not know about COVID, as it continues to wreak havoc on global economies and businesses. In this post, I intend to wrap up this series with a final post, reviewing how value has been reallocated across companies during the months, and providing an updated valuation of the S&P 500. Given that much of Europe is going into lockdown, and that there is no vaccine in sight, this may seem premature, but I have a feeling that there will be other uncertainties that will vie for market attention over the coming weeks, especially as the US election results play out in legal and legislative arenas.
A Market Overview
For those of you who have read my prior posts on COVID's market effects, I will follow a familiar script. I will start by noting that this crisis has played out in markets in three acts, captured in the graph below where I look at the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ, since the start of this year:
The year began auspiciously for US equities, as stocks built on positive performance in 2019 (when it was up more than 30%) and continued to rise. In fact, on February 14, US equities were are at all time highs, when news of the virus encroaching into Europe and then rapidly expanding across the world caused stocks to go into a tailspin that lasted just over five weeks. On March 23, 2020, amidst talk of doomsday for stocks, momentum shifted, with some credit to the Fed, and stocks went on a run that extended through the end of August, recovering almost all of the ground lost during the meltdown. In September and October, stocks were choppy with more bad days than good, as investors recalibrated. While the graph is US-centric, this was a global crisis, and equities around the global moved through the same three phases, as you can see in the table below, where I look at selected equity indices from around the world:
|Download corporate age data & revenue growth data|
|Download PE decile data & Dividend decile data|
|Download spreadsheet with simulation results|
- Respect markets, even if you disagree with them: Markets are not all knowing and they are definitely not efficient, but they are extraordinary platforms for conveying a consensus view of the future. While you and I may disagree with the market view, and markets can be wrong, it behooves us all to at least try and understand the message that it delivers.
- Time to move on: For many managers and investors, the COVID crisis is a reminder, sometimes in painful terms, that we are now well into the 21st century and continuing to use tools, techniques and metrics that were developed and tested on 20th century data is a recipe for disaster. That was the underlying message in my posts on value investing from last month.
- Importance of Flexibility: If you look across what companies that have done well during this crisis share in common, it is flexibility, with companies that can adapt quickly to new circumstances improving their odds of winning. In the same vein, it seems self defeating for companies to borrow too much or lock themselves into paying large dividends, since both reduce their capacity to respond quickly to changed circumstances.
- Market data (November 1, 2020)
- Regional breakdown - Market Changes (November 1, 2020)
- Country breakdown - Market Changes (November 1, 2020)
- Sector breakdown - Market Changes (November 1, 2020)
- Industry breakdown - Market Changes (November 1, 2020)
- PE breakdown - Market Changes (November 1, 2020)
- PBV breakdown - Market Changes (November 1, 2020)
- Dividend Yield breakdown - Market Changes (November 1, 2020)
- Cash Return breakdown - Market Changes (November 1, 2020)
- Age breakdown - Market Changes (November 1, 2020)
- Revenue Growth breakdown - Market Changes (November 1, 2020)
- Debt load breakdown - Market Changes (November 1, 2020)
- A Viral Market Meltdown: Fear or Fundamentals?
- A Viral Market Meltdown II: Pricing or Valuing? Investing or Trading?
- A Viral Market Meltdown III: Clues in the Market Debris
- A Viral Market Meltdown IV: Investing for a post-virus Economy
- A Viral Market Meltdown V: Back to Basics
- A Viral Market Meltdown VI: The Price of Risk
- A Viral Market Update VII: Market Multiples
- A Viral Market Update VIII: Value vs Growth, Active vs Passive, Small Cap vs Large!
- A Viral Market Update IX: A Do-it-Yourself S&P 500 Valuation
- A Viral Market Update X: A Corporate Life Cycle Perspective
- A Viral Market Update XI: The Flexibility Premium
- A Viral Market Update XII: The Resilience of Private Risk Capital
- A Viral Market Update XIII: The Strong (FANGAM) get Stronger!
- A Viral Market Update XIV: It's a wrap, premature or not!
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