Contrarians probably are waiting for the other shoe – or in this case, U.S. stock markets – to drop.
If you’re not familiar with contrarian investing, the theory goes something like this: Consensus opinion is often wrong. When the majority of investors have a bullish outlook and believe stocks are going to move higher, the chances are stock values will drop. Likewise, when the majority has a bearish outlook and believes stocks are going to move lower, the chances are stock values will rise.
Why would Contrarians expect markets to head south? One reason is bullish sentiment is high. On 23rd October, the American Association of Individual Investors’ Investor Sentiment Survey, which measures the percentage of individual investors who are bullish, bearish, and neutral on the stock market for the next six months, shows 49.2 percent are bullish and just 17.6 percent are bearish (the rest are neutral). The long-term averages for bullish and bearish sentiment are 39 percent and 30.5 percent, respectively.
Contrarians also are eyeballing the fact that stock markets in the United States have run up for 519 sessions without as much as a 10 percent correction, according to Barron’s. That means markets have weathered bombs at the Boston marathon, chemical weapons in Syria, monetary policy uncertainty, U.S. government shutdown, and Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance. Of course, 519 sessions is not the longest winning streak ever, not even close. In fact, if we assume about 250 trading sessions in a year, then the current rally would have to last until about 2018 to match the record (1,767 sessions) set between October 1990 and October 1997.
Investors aren’t the only bullish faction. Money managers who participated in Barron’s latest big money poll also seem to have adopted Alfred E. Neuman’s motto: ‘What, me worry?’ Their outlook seems to focus on the Fed’s loose monetary policy. According to Barron’s, “Four of five money managers in our big-money poll expect stocks to be the best-performing asset over the next year, even as 71 percent see U.S. shares as already fairly valued. Thanks to unending central bank support, we all expect above-par stock returns from sub-par economic growth.”
So, what’s going to happen? Only time will tell.