NEW YORK (Real Money) -- At last, the real "top-calling" articles I've been waiting for have arrived. Last week we got a plethora of articles about how the Twitter (TWTR) debut signaled the end of the run. Today comes the quintessential piece, the lead story in The Wall Street Journal: "Stocks Regain Broad Appeal. Individual Investors Are Returning to Stocks, Which Could be Bad." Put aside, for a moment, the hilarity of the "could be bad" subhead. Bad for whom? Bad for what? Bad for individuals? The bulls? The bears? The country?
Let's just focus on what I call the whole "time-honored-ness" of the exercise.
First, it is true that the market's had a terrific 24% advance. It's also true that the stock market has been, in aggregate, a pretty darned good place to put your money since the bottom in March of 2009.
Second, I am willing to stipulate that, judging from fund flows, individual investors are definitely more interested in stocks. As the article points out, $76 billion has been put into stocks vs. $451 billion pulled out during the 2006-to-2012 time frame.Third, I am not oblivious to the streaming-hot nature of the initial-public-offering market. Exhibit A, Twitter, is incredibly expensive, both in its pricing at $26 and in its opening at $45. As I said all last week, everyone has a right to overpay for anything, as long as he or she is willing to accept the consequences, which may include the possibility that something will go wrong with the company or with the thesis. Oh, and what happens if Twitter is like Facebook (FB)? Here was a highly overvalued company at $38, where it opened, and then it switched to a very inexpensive $17, relative to what turned out to be tremendous earnings power as the company executed properly. Every growth fund would have killed to be able to buy Facebook at $38 now. Fourth, I will acknowledge that the sentiment polls reflect way too much optimism, with far too many bulls. On an empirical basis, there have been only four other times when the market has come into November up 20%, and in all four cases it finished higher. Still, it's hard to believe that there should be a huge number of bears, isn't it?