Dow would rise to 50,000 if Trump matches market performance under Obama

President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump (L) to discuss transition plans in the White House Oval Office in Washington, U.S., November 10, 2016.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

Investor enthusiasm around his presidency has helped push the Dow Jones industrial average to the cusp of 20,000.

Now all President-elect Donald Trump needs to do while in office to get the Dow to 50,000 is match the stock market's performance under his predecessor.

During the eight years of President Obama, the Dow jumped 150 percent, or 12.3 percent annually, through Tuesday, according to Bespoke Investment Group. That's the third-best stock market performance since WWII for any president behind only President Clinton's and FDR's triples.

Source: Bespoke Investment Group

Matching the performance of President Ronald Reagan, to whom many have compared Trump for his similar tax cutting proposals and entertainer/outsider enthusiasm, would take the Dow to 47,000. Not too shabby.

To be sure, Trump is inheriting a market at record highs and in the eighth year of a bull market. President Obama inherited a Dow that bottomed after a vicious financial crisis at around 6,400 two months after his inauguration. Democrats argue Obama had a lot to do with that turnaround, while Republicans say the stock market rebounded because of the Federal Reserve's loose monetary policies and in spite of Obama.

According to longtime market historian and strategist Sam Stovall of CFRA, the market has posted a 6.7 percent compounded annual return under Republican presidents since WWII and a 9.6 percent compounded annual return under Democrats.

Going by just the numbers above, every incoming president should be trying to emulate Ford.

All due respect to the late President Ford, but the Dow's performance during his reign illustrates that investors should take these numbers with a grain of salt.

Timing of economic cycles, central bank actions and plans put in place by their predecessors seem to matter more to market performance than the commander-in-chief at the time. If that holds true, Trump has his work cut out for him.