Some glorious opportunities for those with patience.
First, European equities. There are potential opportunities here for the brave in the Polish stock index (only European nation to avoid recession in the last 5 years, p/e 7.7, dividend 4.9) or Russia (oil price dependent, but if oil holds up, p/e 5.3 cheapest on the continent), but if we play it safe, then Germany remains an economic powerhouse, but has been held back by PIIGS worries. Germany’s p/e is at 11 currently, back at the levels where the last secular bull market began.
Source: Pragmatic Capitalism
German equity yields are currently 3.6, having reached even higher toward the end of 2011, giving us readings that have also marked great long term buying opportunities.
Source: Profitimes / GlobalFinancialData
The UK FTSE has a p/e of 9.8, into the single digit p/es that have historically marked secular bottoms, and is paying dividend yield of 3.7 – another attractive combination. If we look back at the history of equity dividends versus gilts yields, then UK shares are relative to UK government bonds as attractive as they were at the start of the 1950s, which was when the 1950s secular stocks bull market really got going.
The US stock market dividend yield also makes US equities very attractive to treasury yields, historically.
Source: Scott Barber / Thomson Reuters
Plus, treasury yields are at all time record lows, paying negative real returns. Treasury yields have historically made long term waves lasting around 30 years alternating up and down. The current down wave in yields is due to come to an end, giving rise to a long bear market in treasury bonds. This should occur as money flows back into equities and real estate in new secular bull markets, and as China gradually withdraws from its excessive treasury purchase programme.
Source: Scott Grannis / Fed Reserve
The global real estate bust since around 2007 has largely completed its course, with house prices historically tending to rise around 12 years and fall around 4 years. The table below reveals that US and Ireland, which both had major housing bulls, are now undervalued.
Source: The Economist
Affordibility for US housing has never been better. Coupled with the significant undervaluation shown above, US real estate looks a great longer term buy here.
Source: Scott Grannis / National Assoc Realtors
UK real estate is still somewhat overvalued, but topped out about a year after the US, so perhaps needs a little more time to bottom out. Japan stands out in the above table as the most undervalued, and in fact, Japanese real estate gradually lost around 70% of its value since deflation took hold 2 decades ago. An opportunity for the brave, but one that should again pay off handsomely in the longer term.
Source: Brain Cramps
To sum up, there are some great buy and hold opportunities for the longer term – high reward, low labour trades. The Dax and FTSE valuations and dividends versus bonds echo what I suggested in my secular position analysis that we should be looking upwards not downwards for stocks. The record extremes in treasuries, bond yields versus stocks yields and real negative returns equally reflect that we should be looking short government bonds not long. And finally, real estate in some countries, particularly in the US, now looks historically a buy again. Drawing all together I believe the future it clear – that we will see money flowing out of government bonds and into equities and real estate. For now though, echoing Scott Grannis’s thoughts, the markets are pricing in a Lehman style event in Europe, and hence the extremes. Anything not as bad as that is likely to encourage money flows the other way. That’s in a similar vein to my secular positioning historical analysis, namely that around this point in previous secular stocks bears, things also looked a mess and fear reigned, and yet equities barely made new nominal lows after that. As Russell Napier says, there comes a point whereby equities are so historically cheap that just slightly less bad news will propel them higher. With the German Dax back at its last secular lows in valuation, that makes it, to me, a compelling buy.