We spent many hours at the end of 2019 looking at all the potential risks in the economy and markets and nowhere did we find a global pandemic caused by a bat in China. This quarter was the worst performing 1st quarter in history with the S&P 500 down 35% on March 23rd, before rallying to close the quarter down 20%. It took only 18 trading days to go from the greatest market in history to a bear market. There was no discrimination in the decline as nearly all companies suffered significant declines, regardless of their health and growth prospects. Unless we are going into a depression, we believe that much of the bad news has now been priced into stocks. However, a market bottom is typically a process and not an event. The coming months will tell us more about this recovery as the duration will dictate its shape: V, U or L.
As investors continue to grapple with the near-term issues impacting global markets, we believe there is disruptive innovation happening simultaneously and could be the transformative innovation platforms that can drive the economy out of a potential recession and power growth for many years in the future. The key areas are (Source: Ark Investments):
- Artificial Intelligence
- Energy Storage
- DNA Sequencing
On Christmas Eve it looked like the bull market was over, with the market down nearly 20% in less than a quarter. Now, 6 months later, we are back at all-time highs and the market has rallied over 26%. While the average investor is left scratching his or her head, the rally is the result of one main catalyst, the Federal Reserve’s desire to keep interest rates low. This is not a new phenomenon, as the low interest rates have been a driver of much of the market’s success over the past decade.
Successful investing is often determined by one’s ability to stay the course. Since 2009, investors have had every excuse to bail out of stocks, but the market has continued to climb a wall of worry, becoming one of the longest bull markets in history. In fact, since March of ’09, the S&P 500 is up 290%. By historic measures, this market has lasted 108 months vs 54 months for the average bull market. The question becomes: Where are we now? In our humble opinion, we are probably pretty deep into the 4th quarter and might go into overtime.
Noah and I flew down to Orlando last week for the annual TD Ameritrade Institutional Conference. In addition to industry professionals and experts, there was quite a lineup of speakers and entertainment, including Mitt Romney, Sugar Ray Leonard and Huey Lewis & the News. Our key takeaways follow: