Looking over the last six months, Bob Doll assessed the status of the 10 predictions he made at the beginning of the year.
“Equity markets experienced a strong first half of the year, and stock prices already advanced to where we originally thought they would be at year-end,” Doll, chief equity strategist and senior portfolio manager of Nuveen Asset Management, wrote in “A Midyear 10 Predictions Assessment” on Monday. “Bond prices rose as yields fell, with the Federal Reserve continuing its monthly tapering of asset purchases.”
Doll said that while economic growth was disappointing early in the year, the earnings growth remained reasonably solid. Outside of the U.S., the pace of growth and the direction of financial markets remained mixed. Meanwhile, financial market volatility has remained extremely low.
Looking ahead for the rest of the year, Doll predicted that the main issues to watch would be the pace of economic and earnings growth, geopolitical hot spots and the continued debate on the Fed’s policy normalization.
“Our topline view is that we expect bonds to reverse their first-half strength, equity markets to be more volatile and stock selection to be a key driver of performance,” he wrote.
As of right now, Doll says he has gotten four of his predictions right and two wrong. Meanwhile, four of his predictions are still too early to call.
4 Predictions Doll Got Right:
1. U.S. equities record another good year despite enduring a 10% correction.
“Equities are certainly off to a good year, advancing 7.2% to date,” Doll said in a statement. “So far, we have seen two corrections of over 5% this year (in January and in April) but have not experienced a 10% one.”
Doll’s expectation in January was that a 10% correction during the year was likely to be caused by overbought and deteriorating technical conditions.
2. Dividends, stock buybacks, capex and M&A increase at a double-digit rate.
“M&A has been the story of the year, with global activity up close to 40%,” he wrote. “Dividend increases and share buybacks have been noticeable as well. Capital expenditures have yet to take off, but leading indicators are pointing in the right direction.”
In January, Doll said he expected the largesse to spread to business reinvestment and acquisitions, as a pent-up demand and aging of plants, equipment and technology argue for increases in those key areas.
3. The U.S. dollar appreciates as U.S. energy and manufacturing trends continue to improve.
“The dollar is slightly higher through midyear,” Doll stated, crediting Morningstar Direct and Bloomberg, as of June 27. “Energy production and manufacturing trends are up by any number of measures.”
Back in January, Doll said the U.S.’s move toward energy independence was already positively influencing the country’s trade deficit and had promises to enhance U.S. job expansion and economic growth.
4. Municipal bonds, led by high yield, outperform taxable bond counterparts.
“Municipal bonds (and high-yield munis in particular) have been stellar performers so far this year and have been easily outpacing taxable bonds,” he asserted. In January, Doll said widely publicized difficulties in Detroit and Puerto Rico had created an opportunity for municipal bond investors, and he predicted the tax-exempt market was positioned for outperformance.
2 Predictions Doll Got Wrong:
1. Cyclical stocks outperform defensive stocks.