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Aspirin Count Indicator

When times are tough, headaches abound… and aspirin sales go up! The idea is that, as a lagging indicator, stock prices and aspirin sales are inversely related. So, when the sales of asprin go up, the market goes down. This is generally considered more of a humorous theory than a concrete strategy.

How did this lagging indicator perform in 2008? Wyeth reported that sales of pain/headache reliever Advil were up 2 percent (to $673 million) compared to a year earlier, noting a sales increase of 8 percent (to $171 million) in the fourth quarter. So, at least for 2008 there seems to be a correlation, but then again, the aspirin count indicator has never been formally studied.

Photo: Julia Ryner