It’s Time To Invest In Small Caps

John Gilluly

One of many benefits of remaining indifferent from the day by day thrall of the inventory market is the capability to see costs when it comes to knowledge and chances quite than emotion. The snug rubric “buy low, sell high” looks like a fairy story at occasions like these when panicked buyers promote wantonly right into a market devoid of consumers. There additionally stay three extra potential days of tax-loss promoting earlier than the 2018 buying and selling yr ends.

However in case you are on the lookout for a contrarian alternative to place cash to work within the new yr, learn on.

Brief-term promoting panics of this magnitude are sometimes indicators of a correction, not a bear market. A earlier correction that started within the latter half of 2015 and prolonged into February 2016 lasted eight months. Small-cap indices fell roughly 25% from peak to trough. However a yr later, they have been hitting new highs.

Our present sell-off has lasted four months. Small caps at the moment are down about 26% from their August 2018 highs, returning to their breakout level of mid-November 2016.

The information out there’s abysmal. We’re on monitor to shut out the worst inventory market December since 1931, a time when unemployment stood at 20% and the Normal & Poor’s Index had already misplaced 60% of its worth. This previous week, the Dow Jones Industrials dropped 7%, adopted by one other three% on Monday, December 24. And on Thursday, December 20, 2018, the CBOE Put/Name ratio registered its most bearish name ever.

Put Call Ratio - 1995-2018

However moderately than viewing this flip of occasions as the start of a bear market, I see it as a correction within the midst of a secular bull market that started in March 2009 and which first broke to new all-time highs in January 2013.

Should you promote amidst a promoting stampede like we now have now, you danger dropping your place when the bull market resumes. The good bull markets (1949-66, 1962-2000) lasted for at the very least a era, and if we’re in a single, years of upside stay forward.

In one week, we can be getting into the third yr of the Presidential Cycle, arguably probably the most constructive (for shares) yr within the four-year cycle. See a chart and rationalization of this cycle by Troy Bombardia at BullMarkets.co.

Median Returns following the US mid-term elections (1950-2014)

Elapsed TimeReturnProportion of Constructive Returns
6 mos. later+15.2%100%
9 mos. later+16.51%100%
1 yr later+14.9%100%
1.5 years later+20.57%100%

You’ll discover that in 65 years, there has not been a single deviation from constructive outcomes on the 6-month to 1.5-year marks after the US mid-term elections.

“As for the first five days of January, the last 43 times these days were up, the market had full-year gains 83.7% of the time, with an average return of 13.7%. The 25 down “first 5 days” were followed by 14 up years and 11 down, for an average gain of 1%”. (See “Hirsch & Mistal, Stock Trader’s Almanac 2019”, November 14, 2018)

The earlier two bear markets – the Dotcom Bust (2000-03) and the Monetary Disaster (2008-09) – have been characterised by wildly excessive P/E ratios, rampant hypothesis, even mania (first in Nasdaq shares, then in housing), adopted by extreme injury to the financial system.

None of these circumstances exist immediately.

There’s a lot to love concerning the present financial system. It leads one to consider we’re in a inventory market panic, not the foreshadowing of an financial downturn.

The one fly within the ointment is the Fed’s current rate of interest hikes. In actuality, we’re adjusting to – or fairly returning to – a time of normalized charges after eight years of quantitative easing. The Fed’s actions are the results of a robust financial system, not a weak one on the verge of recession. We’re shifting right into a future the place robust company earnings are the primary drivers of inventory costs, not accommodating rates of interest.

Like a rubber band stretched to extremity, I anticipate a violent snapback rally in January 2019 to hold the markets greater into a robust Spring and Summer time forward. I feel the one factor that would derail it (briefly) can be sudden outcomes from the Mueller investigation or an uncommon motion by the US President towards the Federal Reserve. These fears, nevertheless, might already be baked into the market at present costs.

Included under is a twenty-three yr chart of the Russell 2000 Small-Cap Index (RUT) (the SPX Small Cap 600 is a corollary of this index). Discover how costs are nonetheless contained inside the long-term channel that started in March 2009.

Russel 2000 - 22 yr chart

(Supply: StockCharts.com)

Lastly, view this chart under from IndexIndicators.com. It measures inventory index actions by percentages. The acute promoting that we see illustrated right here (in inexperienced) for Q1’2016, This fall’2016, and now This fall’2018 has existed in any respect main inflection factors in market sentiment. In the dramatic drop of the previous 2 days, the variety of small-cap shares under their 200-day shifting common has solely elevated barely on the momentum chart.

SPX 600 12.24.2018

Excellent shopping for alternatives typically comply with panics. However you needed to stand up to the worry round you to benefit from it and struggle the instinctual urge to flee. That is a type of moments. I’m satisfied that cooler heads will prevail after January 1, 2019, and a completely new yr of buying and selling will start.

Buyers who missed the outsized returns in small caps of the final two years now have a chance to re-enter the small-cap market on the similar degree it was positioned on November 11, 2016.

There have been three pullbacks because the starting of the secular bull market in March 2009. Every pullback has been dramatic and comparatively short-lived. The 2 rallies after the earlier lows have been lengthy and sustained and led to new all-time highs.

Starting dateFinish DatePeriodProportion
March 9, 2009July 1, 201128 mos.+139%
July 1, 2011September 30, 2011three mos.-26%
September 30, 2011June 19, 201545 mos.+100%
June 19, 2015February 12, 2016eight mos.-25%
February 12, 2016August 24, 201830 mos.+77%
August 24, 2018December 21, 2018four mos.-26%


How would I commerce this example? Start a 50% place in IWM or SLY on the open on December 26th or 27th. Cautiously add a further 25% tranche if the ETF drops one other 10% under its present place. Save the remaining 25% as insurance coverage for a further tranche at a later date.

Disclosure: I/we now have no positions in any shares talked about, however might provoke an extended place in IWM over the subsequent 72 hours. I wrote this text myself, and it expresses my very own opinions. I’m not receiving compensation for it (aside from from Looking for Alpha). I’ve no enterprise relationship with any firm whose inventory is talked about on this article.

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