Credit Suisse: Investors are worrying too much and are going to miss out on big market upside ahead

Key Points
  • While there's plenty to worry about, investors aren't focused enough on the positives in this market, Credit Suisse tells clients.
  • The firm expects the S&P 500 to end the year at 3,000, or 13 percent above current levels.
  • Economic growth, strong profits and upbeat consumer and business sentiment will help led the way, strategist Jonathan Golub says.
More wealthy investors are going to cash and expressing doubts about the strongest parts of the market, including tech, but the bulls are still in the majority, according to a Q2 2021 E-Trade survey.
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Investors are getting too weighed down by worry and aren't focusing enough on all the stock market has going for it, according to Credit Suisse.

Stocks have been struggling all year to gain footing amid myriad fears over trade tensions, the inflation specter and concern that while earnings have been strong, this might be as good as it gets.

That's the wrong way to look at things, the bank's strategists said in a lengthy report for clients. Credit Suisse is projecting the to end the year at 3,000, representing a 13 percent gain from Tuesday's close.

"While each issue has merit, we believe investors are under-estimating the market's potential upside, and over-estimating risks," said Jonathan Golub, Credit Suisse's chief U.S. equity strategist.

Despite blowout Apple earnings, the stock market continued to struggle on Wednesday. The S&P 500 is little changed on the year.

In addition to the aforementioned concerns, Golub noted fears about whether economic growth won't meet lofty expectations and signals being sent from the bond market, where a narrower gap between government bond yields is kindling fears that a recession is looming.

Scott Minerd discusses market health
Scott Minerd discusses market health

What he thinks they should be focusing on, though, are the many positives.

For one, corporate America is in the midst of its best earnings season in nearly eight years, with profits on track to grow more than 23 percent. Golub called the pace "unheard of" for an expansion that has been going on this long — since mid-2009.

The economy also looks strong.

Credit Suisse is projecting 2.8 percent GDP growth this year, and Golub pointed out that Institute for Supply Manufacturing readings are at a level that would make a recession historically unlikely for at least the next 12 months.

As for the market itself, the pullback that has brought major averages into correction territory — 10 percent or more declines — has made valuations much more attractive. The now trades about 16 times earnings after being above 18 times at the start of the year.

Even the increased volatility is a positive sign.

The Cboe volatility index, a popular gauge of market fear, spiked above 38 in early February. Readings above 25 have been followed by three-month returns of 6.9 percent in the S&P 500, according to Golub.

"Historically equity returns have been robust following spikes in volatility," Golub said.

Golub's optimism comes at a time when the mood is otherwise downbeat. Investors responding to the American Association of Individual Investors weekly survey report cash positions at an 11-month high, and investing guru Mark Mobius warned on Wednesday of a coming bear market that could see a 40 percent plunge.

However, Golub said business sentiment remains strong even if investors are pessimistic. Capital spending is on the rise following last year's corporate tax cut, and small business and consumer confidence surveys continue to indicate an upbeat climate.

"While the current recovery is one of the longest in history, it is also the slowest. This should naturally extend the cycle," Golub wrote.