Futures Now

'A peak is no reason to panic': CFRA's Sam Stovall sees a strange dynamic gripping Wall Street

‘Peak earnings’ won’t push stocks into bear market, veteran market watcher says
‘Peak earnings’ won’t push stocks into bear market, CFRA's Sam Stovall says

A veteran market watcher is detecting a strange dynamic on Wall Street.

Based on market activity and robust first-quarter earnings, CFRA's Sam Stovall says investors are experiencing fear and greed — simultaneously.

"Earnings are coming in much, much better than expected," the firm's chief investment strategist said Tuesday on CNBC's "Futures Now." "They're worried that 'yes, earnings growth is good. But if it ends up being too good, that's going to end up being a peak. And now, I have to worry about it getting worse from this point forward.'"

The overwhelming fear is that ultra-strong results could be a warning sign that the bull market is ending.

However, Stovall doesn't share that sentiment in his note: "A Peak Is No Reason To Panic."

"EPS [earnings per share] growth for Q1 2018 is nearly 600 basis points higher than end-of-quarter estimates, but history implies that a peak in EPS growth does not translate to panic that this bull will soon come to a screeching halt," Stovall wrote. "Indeed in more than 70% of observations since WWII, the rose in price nine months after a peak in 12-month GAAP EPS growth."

Despite a maturing bull market, Stovall contends the odds are against a pivot into bear territory even if another deep sell-off wipes out more value.

"Essentially, what we're saying is stay the course. This correction might not be over quite yet, but we don't see it morphing into a new bear market," he said.

Stovall's forecast calls for the S&P 500 to end 2018 at 2,900, an 8 percent rise from current levels. He expects most of the year's gains to happen later in the year, citing uncertainty related to the November midterm elections.

"I call myself a bull with a lower case 'b,'" Stovall said.