Market bull Rich Bernstein is 'very shocked' investors are worrying about peak earnings 

Another day, another volatile trading session.

The S&P 500 failed to stay in the green and fell into correction territory on Monday — for the first time since April 2. It's now shaping up to be the index's worst month since 2009.

However, that's not pushing long-term bull Richard Bernstein into bear territory.

Bernstein, an Institutional Investor hall of famer, partly attributes the wild market swings due to a growing divide between investor fear versus corporate and economic fundamentals.

"That gap is very wide now," the Richard Bernstein Advisors CEO said Monday on CNBC's "Trading Nation." "It's clear that investors are very scared that somehow we're replaying 2008. But, yet the fundamentals still are very healthy."

So far this earnings season, nearly 8 in 10 companies have reported better-than-expected earnings. According to Refinitiv, that's 26.3 percent higher versus third quarter 2017.

Bernstein, a CNBC contributor, cites strong earnings as a major element of his bullish forecast. But, more and more people are interpreting it as warning signal that peak earnings is here.

"I'm very shocked, and I don't use that word often. I'm actually quite shocked that people are talking about peak earnings," Bernstein said. "Our view is that peak earnings growth may well be in the fourth quarter. But that's a far cry from peak earnings. Peak earnings leads one to believe that a profits recession is imminent, that within a quarter or two we're going to have negative earnings growth."

Bernstein is sticking to his thesis that a true bear market is nowhere to be seen. He acknowledges the bull market is in its later stages but says there are trades for that.

One of his strategies plays off his notion that the gap between investor fear and fundamentals is deepest among cyclicals. He picks energy, materials and industrials as his favorite cyclical groups.

"They will continue to perform well despite what we have seen recently," Bernstein said. "If one believes that earnings are being underestimated for the remainder of this year into next year, those would be the sectors, I think, that would be ripe for the most positive surprises."

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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's “Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET).   In addition, he contributes to CNBCand CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

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