(Hollywood, Fla.) Valuations are still right for stock buyers, and long-term trends should give them substantial returns vs. other asset classes like bonds and gold, says Jeremy Siegel, the Wharton finance professor who gave the closing presentation at the Pershing Insite 2010 conference.
“I feel like I’m the last optimist standing,” joked Siegel at the start of his speech, which highlighted the outperformance of stocks since 1802.
Over the 1802-2009 period, stocks have averaged 6.6% annual returns vs. 3.6% for bonds and 0.5% for gold, he notes. “Gold is overvalued now like in 1981,” Siegel said.
As for bonds, he reminded the audience of roughly 1,000 advisors that bonds produced negative returns from 1966-1981 of -4/2% on average, when there was low inflation (like today).
While he acknowledged that the best buy point in recent times was in March 2009, he says the S&P 500 is still below its historical trend line. “We are under 1,100,” Siegel said.
The finance expert stresses that global stocks also have performed well in the past 110 years with 6% real returns on average during this time period. “Yes, the story is the same globally,” he noted.
Siegel explains that price-to-equity ratios should remain in the double digits, because rates for Treasury bonds are not expected to return to the double-digit levels of the late ’70s and early ’80s. “Today, the yields are nothing like that,” he said.
Siegel drew advisors’ attention research done by Strategas, which found that in periods of low inflation, the average price-to-equity ratio is 17.7. For instance, with inflation of 2-3%, this ratio is 15.8%, Siegel points out.
He described recent findings of the ISI Group, as well. “By all measures, we are about 15-22% undervalued,” he said.