Despite American investors’ belief to the contrary, U.S. stocks are now in the greatest bull market of a lifetime—and it’s likely to last a long time because nobody really sees it yet and the economic landscape is uncertain, said investment experts Richard Bernstein and Bob Doll at the Tiburon CEO Summit on Tuesday in New York.
“We think we are in one of the biggest bull markets of our careers right now,” said Bernstein, CEO of Richard Bernstein Advisors and adjunct professor of finance at the NYU Stern School of Business. “Bull markets are not periods of wine and roses. They are periods of fear and indecision.”
Return on capital is highest where capital is scarce, he asserted, saying that’s why U.S. stocks are such a good bet even though asset managers keep pushing alternative investments such as timber, absolute return and emerging markets.
Bernstein’s firm now likes three equity themes: the American industrial renaissance, early-cycle Europe and reflating Japan. His one fixed-income theme is U.S. Treasuries for diversification. “Very traditional stuff is going to be the competition for alternatives,” he said, comparing the current bull market to one that occurred in the 1980s.
Doll, who recently left BlackRock and has become Nuveen’s chief equity strategist, agreed that investors who currently say “I’ll put my money in the stock market when things get better” are missing the mark.
“People can’t wait for the pullback to put some money in the market,” he said. “There’s a lot of cash sloshing around and looking for an entry point.”
Now’s the time, Doll said, predicting a double-digit percentage increase in dividends as payout ratios rise. He also predicts large-cap stocks will outperform small caps, and cyclical companies in the industrial and tech sectors will outperform defensives in staples and utilities. Nuveen is overweight stock, underweight cash, and prefers credit over sovereigns in fixed income.
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