US Markets

Tom Lee, Wall Street's biggest bull, thinks the market's headed lower

Tom Lee: Better entry point for investors is now
Tom Lee: Better entry point for investors is now

For years, Thomas Lee has been known as one of Wall Street's biggest bulls, finding optimism in the market where others often saw obstacles. But that's all changing now, due in large part to fears about what will happen when Donald Trump takes office at the end of next week.

In fact, Lee believes the first half of 2017 will see the market slide from its current record perch, then rally just enough to get back to unchanged when the final closing bell rings.

The year will begin, according to an analysis from the head of research at Fundstrat, with policy confusion amid a flattening yield curve in long-term bonds. That could cause a 5 percent to 7 percent drop in the .

Lee's first-half price target is 2,150, with the year-end number at 2,275.

"Is the first half of the year a great time to be buying stocks? I think you'll get a better entry point," Lee said on CNBC's "Squawk Box." "

In a report for clients, Lee expressed worries that Trump's presidential term could see "a sloppy White House organization (that) creates confusion on U.S. policy, particularly as tweets become policy." He thinks much-anticipated fiscal stimulus may not become reality, and even insinuated that Trump will "fire" Fed Chair Janet Yellen, even though the president lacks the authority to remove central bank officials. Her term runs through February 2018.

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Lee also includes potential criticism from President Barack Obama after he leaves office as a potential downside risk for markets.

As for upside risks, investors likely will "pour record money" into the market at a time when global growth surges and Trump becomes "an incredibly popular president," he wrote.

Lee's predictions are out of consensus though many of his peers on Wall Street have expressed some caution about the markets, particularly after a 6.4 percent S&P 500 jump since the election. CNBC analyst consensus is for about a 4.3 percent price gain in the market — or just more than half what the index normally gains in a year.

The Street view also is that the economy could see substantial growth from Trump's intentions to spend $1 trillion or more on infrastructure that will go with steep tax cuts and a rollback of regulations.

Despite his subdued view on the market, Lee believes the year will see solid economic gains and above-consensus earnings growth of 11 percent.

For investors, though, the sledding will get a little tricky.

Lee is encouraging a focus on what he calls "CRAP" — computers, resources, American banks and phone carriers. He also is overweight value over growth, and small-caps. Top bets are energy, telecoms and financials, and biggest "avoids" are health care, staples and utilities.