NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Feel free to blame flat first-quarter returns on the weather among other things, says Tony Roth, chief investment officer at Wilmington Trust. Investors should take heart, however, because in coming months -- and years -- both the market and the U.S. economy will heat back up.
And emerging markets will get even hotter.
"The first quarter was a rugged one for markets, but no significant damage was done," says Roth. "Headwinds that hurt in the first quarter including weather, dock strike, and price volatility around the U.S. dollar and oil are not likely to be continued."
Despite optimism over lower oil prices and a string of strong monthly jobs reports, the S&P 500 started the year at 2,059 and closed on March 31 only a smidgen higher at 2,069. Wall Street analysts have steadily reduced their corporate earnings estimates for the first quarter after the U.S. dollar rose 10% against the euro during the period.
While Roth, too, expects the more powerful greenback to weigh on earnings, stocks may benefit in the rest of the year if analysts overestimated the downside.
"We still see full-year earnings coming in around $126 per share as we expect benefits from lower oil prices to add to results, along with a modest snap back in economic growth in the 3% range during next two quarters," says Roth. That compares with $119.50 last year.
Looking out even further, Roth still likes U.S. equities due to a burgeoning domestic economy powered by low oil prices, foreign capital inflows and low interest rates. In a seven-year capital markets forecast co-authored by Roth titled "Brave New World, Reserved Expectations," Wilmington Trust forecast modest U.S. stock returns in the mid- to single-digit vicinity due to the steady run-up following the financial crisis in 2008.
Roth says he's finding better values abroad, especially in emerging markets like Mexico, Korea and especially Southeast Asia.
"Even though the U.S. will have the dominant economy in the next decade, we've already realized a lot of value in terms of our financial securities," says Roth. "The emerging markets, on the other hand, have not participated in that run-up and have nearly double the growth rate of the U.S. economy."