Raymond James' Jeff Saut: I've never seen anything like this market, so I'm not going 'to play'

Regroup not surprising today
Regroup not surprising today

Jeffrey Saut has been around the market for a long time but says he's never seen anything like what's happening now.

As a result, the chief investment strategist at Raymond James is heading for the sidelines, choosing not to participate in something that is, at least for the time being, eluding his grasp.

"Folks, I have been in this business for over 46 years, and observing markets with my father for 54 years, and I have never experienced anything like what is currently happening," Saut told clients in a note Thursday morning.

Saut's daily missive is required reading on Wall Street. His lengthy tenure in the business has gained him a place among the must-follows, as he's known as a mostly bullish strategist though with a pragmatic approach.

However, he said the market since early February has left him flustered.

Jin Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Indeed, the post-election rally has defied expectations across Wall Street, with bullish sentiment at its highest level in 30 years. The market has jumped to a succession of record highs, most recently featuring a violent rally Wednesday after President Donald Trump delivered an address to Congress that was greeted with almost universal approval.

Saut pointed out that his models called the immediate post-election rally, but also pointed to "a downside window of vulnerability" in February that never materialized. The gained 3.7 percent in February and is up 6.8 percent for the year.

As a result, this week he sold 15 of what he described as "short-term tactical positions" and is sitting things out until further notice.

Saut said the positions he's holding remain 80 percent long on the market, reflecting his feelings that the current unpredictability will pass.

"In the short term, we do not understand what is going on," Saut wrote. "Consequently, when we do not understand the current market environment, we tend not to play."

Long term, Saut remains a bull.

He pointed out that "secular" bull markets, or those driven by fundamentals rather than cyclical factors, tend to last 14 to 18 years, "suggesting there are years left to run in this one."

However, for the moment he's not taking any chances. Saut did not immediately return a request for further comment.

He's not the only one on Wall Street feeling wary about the rally:

Look at rally with sense of 'healthy skepticism': Pro
Look at rally with sense of 'healthy skepticism': Pro


Clarification: An earlier headline implied that Saut is out of the market completely. He remains positive on stocks over the long-term but is cautious near-term.