The S&P 500 is in an unusual rut: It hasn't reached a new high in more than a year.
This scenario has only happened 16 times since World War II, and it's generally been seen amid deep market corrections. But investors might want to think twice about throwing in the towel.
"We looked at cases when you went this long without a new one-year high, and it's actually quite rare," Ed Clissold, chief U.S. strategist at Ned Davis Research, said recently on CNBC's "Futures Now. " "There's a big dichotomy depending on how big the market declined during that one year walk through the wilderness."
The S&P last hit a yearly high — and an all-time record — of 2,134.72 on May 20, 2015. Since then, the index has fallen as much as 15 percent without hitting a new high. But Clissold doesn't find this alarming.
"If there was a really big decline greater than 20 percent during that one-year period, which is a classic bear market, actually the market really struggled after that," he said.
History shows that bigger declines have foreshadowed longer periods of recovery and smaller gains over the next year, while smaller drops have led to quicker returns to new highs and bigger gains over the subsequent year, according to Clissold.
He also points out that sentiment gauges he follows closely have shown a high level of pessimism — more than one might expect given the "small decline" we've had over the past couple of months.
"I think that would bode well for the market eventually working its way higher and breaking out to new highs," he said.
And if the Federal Reserve raises interest rates by a quarter point within the next couple of months, Clissold believes it could actually push stocks even higher.
"July seems to be more likely [than a June rate hike]. So once that uncertainty clears up one way or the other in the grand scheme of things, one rate hike probably isn't going to kill this market. So you get that uncertainty lifted and the market could move higher from there," he said.
He sees the S&P ending the year at 2,200, 5 percent above Tuesday's closing price.