Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Merrill Survey: 84 percent said equities were fairly priced or undervalued.

it looks and feels like the magic roundabout. weaker profits, higher valuations but more debt/leverage to increase the shareholder payout (buybacks) make 84 percent of the funds managers feel that equities were fairly priced or undervalued. the money has to go somewhere..........by the way 50% reported lower margins so far....

fühlt sich wie der magische kreisel an. schwächere gewinne, höhere bewertungen aber mehr hebel/kredite um die ausschüttungen in form von aktienrückkäufen und dividenden zu erhöhen. das führt dazu das nur 16% der fondsmanager aktien als überbewertet ansehen. das ehrliche argument ist wohl eher das die kophe ja in irgendeine anlageklasse geschaufelt werden muß. nebenbei bemerkt haben satte 50% sinkende margen verzeichnen müssen......

In January, Merrill Lynch & Co. surveyed 223 global fund managers, who oversee a total of $709 billion. About 84 percent said equities were fairly priced or undervalued.

A net 37 percent of managers believe that corporate payouts are too low, a significant increase from 22 percent a year earlier. While some believe that companies might be under-investing in their own businesses (at least some...), the survey supports the idea that companies should issue debt to boost returns to shareholders.

A net 57 percent of respondents believe that companies are underleveraged (watch the data for the us from s&p/ hier die daten für die usa)

with almost half of all companies now rated below investment gradeAs of September, junk, or speculative-rated issuers, defined as those rated "BB-plus" or below, stood at a record high of 49 percent, up from 48 percent at the end of 2005 and a low of 28 percent in 1992, S&P said.

Downgrades and mergers have taken an even higher toll on U.S. nonfinancial, or industrial companies, with 61 percent carrying junk ratings. !!!!!!

The Growth Expectations composite is the most bearish of the four, with a score of 33, compared with a neutral reading of 50. Investors still to expect economic and corporate profits growth disappoint but less so than three months ago. However, the panel remains more skeptical about the ou tlook for profits. Two thirds of the panel think it unlikely that corporate profits will grow by more than 10 percent this year.

The second indicator, which tracks investors' assessment of Monetary Stance, shows that most investors believe that monetary policy is appropriate given their view of inflation

Equity Valuation, scores 48 this month, which highlights how the majority of investors thinks equities are fairly valued.

The fourth indicator that monitors Risk Appetite and Liquidity, scores a 'neutral' 42, in line with the average of the last five years. Sentiment does not seem overbullish. Indeed 38 percent of the panel still believes it "likely" that equities will be lower six months from now.

Against this backdrop, asset allocators remain overweight equities with an average holding of 55 percent in a balanced fund

ML FMS IndicesJanDecNovOct
Growth Expectations Composite33272423
Monetary Stance Composite55535648
Perceptions of Equity Valuation48455144
Risk Appetite & Liquidity Composite42424140

here is something from bloomberg Stocks Look Cheap? Not Without the Big Guys http://tinyurl.com/2dxu4n

A closer examination of what's really going on in the dark depths of stock-market valuations reveals that their relative cheapness owes an outsized debt to a very small selection of the largest stocks, those with market values of more than $85.5 billion in Europe and $117 billion in the U.S. (more on the topic of valuations from hussman http://immobilienblasen.blogspot.com/2006/12/pe-equivalent-valuations-hussman.html

``Despite having a low P/E multiple, the actual number of stocks in the index trading on attractive valuations are few and far between

``It's important to understand just how much the mega-cap companies are depressing valuations,'' Lapthorne says. ``At the aggregate level, stocks look cheap, courtesy of some large-caps. At the individual level, they're expensive

Moreover, these stocks are cheap for well-known reasons.``Oil growth is expected to moderate, financials are at the peak of a boom or a bubble, and pharma has few blockbuster drugs in the pipeline,'' Lapthorne says. ``These guys are hiding the fact that there isn't much at reasonable value to buy.''

Bowers notes that the six-month change in the ratio of U.S. inventories to sales -- a major determinant of corporate-cash flow -- has just racked up its biggest deterioration in more than a decade. ``If that rattles cash flow as it has in the past, markets could be on the brink of a very nasty surprise,'' he warns. (he goes on to say its better to buy the big stocks and exit the small and midcap stocks)



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