40-year veteran of Wall Street with a knack for market timing calls a bottom in stocks

Key Points
  • The stock market has reached a bottom after a tumultuous 10 weeks that's seen the S&P 500 in and out of correction territory, Raymond James' Jeff Saut says.
  • The U.S. economy is not going to slow as much as expected and earnings will be strong next quarter, he adds.
We're experiencing a market bottom, investment guru says

The stock market has reached a bottom following a tumultuous 10 weeks that's seen the in and out of correction territory, longtime strategist Jeff Saut told CNBC on Thursday.

"On Oct. 2, we had on our short-term model a sell signal and we told people if you have trading positions you should sell," said the chief investment strategist at Raymond James. "And we have put some of that money back to work."

"People are underinvested" in stocks, Saut said, citing his belief that the U.S. economy is not going to slow as much as expected and earnings will be strong next quarter.

Saut appeared on "Squawk Box" as U.S. stock futures Thursday morning were alternating between gains and losses. On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 each notched a second positive session in three. However, both indexes were still negative for the year, with the S&P 500 barely out of a correction.

Drawing on a finance career spanning more than four decades, Saut predicts two interest rate increases from the Federal Reserve in 2019, even as other Wall Street analysts expect a slowing in hikes next year.

This 23-year-old is the only full-time female trader at the New York Stock Exchange

Stocks faced pressure in October that spilled into the next month after Fed chief Jerome Powell's Oct. 3 comments that rates were a "long way" from neutral. But on Nov. 28, Powell appeared to walk back those remarks, saying rates are "just below" neutral, suggesting that concerns about a more aggressive path higher for rates may no longer be warranted.

Saut said his long-term model has been positive since October 2008, but short term there were some signals of "potential downside vulnerability" in February. Saut's modeling has been pretty accurate over the years.

A month before the Oct. 19, 1987, crash, Saut was quoted in Barron's predicting a "waterfall decline." He told CNBC on the 30-year anniversary of Black Monday, "I didn't know to call it a crash cause I ain't never seen a crash."

While still in the minority view, Saut was the second money manager on CNBC in as many days to express bullishness in stocks. David Bianco, chief investment strategist at Deutsche Asset Management, on Wednesday predicted a rally of between 5 and 10 percent in the next 30 days. Standing by his 2,850 year-end S&P 500 price target, Bianco said, "A lot can happen in a month."

Other strategists, including Morgan Stanley's Michael Wilson, see a stagnant performance from stocks.