Anyone who expects U.S. individual investors to push stocks higher by moving away from bonds may end up disappointed, according to Vadim Zlotnikov, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.’s chief market strategist.
The CHART OF THE DAY illustrates how Zlotnikov drew his conclusion, presented in a report yesterday. He tracked the value of equities, owned directly or through funds, as a percentage of household financial assets.
Stocks were 39 percent of assets at the end of March, according to data that the Federal Reserve compiles quarterly. The figure was the highest since 2007 and surpassed an average of 29.2 percent since 1950, as shown in the chart.
“U.S. households’ exposure to equities is already above historical levels,” the New York-based strategist wrote. “With rates likely to rise over the next 12 months, the case for a rotation from bonds into equities may become less compelling.”
Average inflation-adjusted returns on U.S. stocks are negative 2.3 percent a year when bond yields increase at an annual rate of more than 1.3 percentage points, he wrote. The calculation is based on performance from 1871 through April of this year.
Betting against stocks with relatively high dividend yields may pay off as rates increase, Zlotnikov wrote. These shares are 20 percent more expensive than their industry peers on average when judged by ratios of price to book value, or the value of assets after subtracting liabilities, the report said.
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