In a famous "Monty Python's Flying Circus" sketch, a man who bought a "Norwegian Blue" parrot brings the obviously dead bird back to the pet shop for a refund. The shopkeeper behind the counter responds that the parrot isn't dead ... it's merely "resting."
Does this wheezing seven-year bull market still have life, or does its recent "rest" presage a death spiral? Evidence so far suggests that the bears are wrong, but by the same token, this aging bull still needs a catalyst to justify another lasting upward trajectory. Stocks will continue to meander sideways until corporate earnings and economic indicators give reason for greater confidence.
Below, we reveal an investing strategy that allows you to make money in any kind of market: up, down or sideways. First, let's look at the big picture.
Earnings season has drawn to a close, and corporate America's report cards contained ugly grades. With 98% of companies in the S&P 500 reporting earnings to date for the first quarter of 2016, the blended earnings decline is -6.7%.
And yet, the market remains overvalued. The forward 12-month price-to-earnings ratio is 16.7, which is above the five-year average of 14.5 and the 10-year average of 14.3. That's a troubling disconnect, for sure, but it doesn't necessarily presage a "crash" as the bears contend. A key trigger for a bear market, an economic recession, is not in sight. That means there are still ways to make money in this choppy market.
U.S. gross domestic product expanded by an annualized 0.8% in the first three months of 2016, better than the 0.5% increase initially estimated. The analyst consensus is that U.S. GDP growth will come in at about 2% this year, not stellar but certainly not a recession. Unemployment remains low and falling, housing prices and starts are rising, and energy prices seem to have (finally) hit bottom and begun a lasting recovery.
Indeed, Janet Yellen last week indicated that if current positive trends continue, the Federal Reserve will probably feel compelled to hike rates when it next meets, in June.
On the economic docket after Memorial Day are a slew of crucial indicators that will help determine the Fed's next course of action: Tuesday: Personal Income and Outlays, S&P Case-Shiller HPI, Consumer Confidence. Wednesday: Motor Vehicle Sales, MBA Mortgage Applications, ADP Employment Report, Gallup U.S. Job Creation Index, PMI Manufacturing Index, ISM Mfg Index, Construction Spending. Thursday: Jobless Claims, Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index. Friday: Employment Situation, PMI Services Index, Factory Orders, ISM Non-Mfg Index.
Still due to report earnings this coming week are Medtronic (MDT) - Get Report , Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS) - Get Report , Zoe's Kitchen (ZOES) , Michael Kors (KORS) , Lands' End (LE) - Get Report , and Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) .
Scandal-plagued Valeant is expected to put in a particularly nasty performance, with the analyst consensus calling for earnings per share of $1.38, compared to $2.36 in the same quarter a year ago.
The bears are at least right about one thing: VRX is a dangerous stock with little hope of a turnaround. Ignore the optimists on this equity: it has already declined 72.04% this year and its problems with alleged price gouging and financial irregularities won't go away anytime soon, if ever.
But the bears have been wrong about other major stocks this year. Take Apple (AAPL) - Get Report , which many analysts actually deemed a "has been" because of the company's disappointing earnings report, slowing iPhone sales and worries about the sustainability of product demand in China. This pessimistic sentiment seemed confirmed, when super-investor Carl Icahn in April sold what was left of his nearly 1% stake.
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Apple stock plunged on the news but has since bounced back and is now up nearly 3% since Icahn dumped his shares. For the past several weeks it has been fashionable among the financial chattering class to speak negatively about Apple, until investors started to wake up and realize that the consumer icon still has plenty of engineering and marketing know-how at its disposal. Unlike Python's deceased parrot, the Cupertino behemoth really isn't dead. Just resting.
As we've explained, the bears are overwrought about the market. But if you're still feeling wary of the stock market as a whole these days, there is a great way to earn extra income in up, down or flat markets. In fact, by using this easy technique, you could rake in an extra $67,548 over the next 12 months -- GUARANTEED. Click here now for all the details.
John Persinos is editorial manager and investment analyst at Investing Daily. At the time of publication, Persinos held stock in Apple.