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Byron Wien: Sorry Bulls, S&P Ends Year Where It Started

Thursday, 31 Jan 2013 | 3:08 PM ET
Wien: I Think A Major Sell-Off In The Works
Legendary investor Byron Wien, vice chairman of Blackstone Advisory Partners, explains why he¿s turning negative on the market, with CNBC's Jackie DeAngelis and the Futures Now Traders.

With the Dow Jones Industrial Average on track for its best January since 1989 and the Standard & Poor's 500 off to its fastest start since 1997, it seems most pros are expecting a banner year.

They say history is on the side of the bulls. When the S&P 500 gained at least 5 percent in January, it has almost always finished the year with a very strong double-digit gain.

Just check out this chart:

Year

Jan Gain

Year Gain

1951

6.02%

16.35%

1954

5.12%

45.02%

1961

6.32%

23.31%

1967

7.82%

20.09%

1975

12.28%

31.55%

1976

11.83%

19.15%

1980

5.76%

25.77%

1985

7.41%

26.33%

1987

13.18%

2.03%

1989

7.11%

27.25%

1997

6.13%

31.01%

Average 24.33%

Byron Wien, however, isn't most pros. The vice chairman of Blackstone Advisory Partners is among the most celebrated investors on Wall Street. He's known for making predictions and for timing the market with astonishing accuracy.

And in an interview on CNBC's "Future's Now," Wien essentially said the bulls were in trouble.

"I expect the S&P to end the year about where it started," said Wien. "The stock market had a good January, but I think we end where we started."

Blackstone Advisory Partners Vice Chairman Byron Wien revealed his Top 10 Market Surprises of 2013 on Squawk Box Wednesday.
Matthew Belvedere | CNBC
Blackstone Advisory Partners Vice Chairman Byron Wien revealed his Top 10 Market Surprises of 2013 on Squawk Box Wednesday.

Wien thinks that unlike so many other years when January ushered in a massive rally, this year will be different.

"Right now the market keeps going up because liquidity keeps finding its way into equities," he said.

In other words, with the Fed keeping interest rates at historic lows, Wien feels investors have little choice but to put money in stocks – specifically dividend yielding stocks.

However, he expects that buying to slow down significantly. "Eventually corporate fundamentals will take over, and I think they're going to be disappointing."

Wien doesn't like the latest GDP data. "Nothing bad had happened yet in Q4," Wien said. "No fiscal cliff, no sequester and the payroll tax holiday was still in effect."

And yet GDP dropped 0.01 percent during the quarter.

By contrast in 2013 all of those negatives present a drag on the economy and by proxy on most companies. "The chances of revenue disappoint is very real," he said.

As a result he doesn't expect earnings to go up, like so many bulls. Instead, he thinks they'll go down.

"Most investors think earnings are going to come in around $110 for the S&P or even better in 2013 – but I think they're going to come in below $100. And when that reality sets in, I expect the market could have a correction."

If you're among the optimists who argue that investors will pay a greater premium for stocks as the economy proves, Wien thinks you'll be sadly disappointed.

"Multiples usually expand when interest rates come down – the next big move in interest rates should be higher – I don't think you can count on expanding multiples," he said.

And in the face of market weakness, Wien also said he expects gold to trade $1,900. "I'd buy gold as an insurance policy. If the market is turbulent you'll be glad you own gold," he said.

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