Friday, October 26, 2012

Once Bullish, Leon Cooperman Grows Wary of Stock Valuations

For years famed investor Leon Cooperman has talked up stocks. But on last night’s show, he sounded the alarm.

Cooperman, who is a widely followed investor and chairman of the hedge fund Omega, has made headlines for quite some time calling stocks 'the best house in the financial asset neighborhood.'

Back in 2011, Cooperman outlined his pro-stock market thesis at length on CNBC.

But on 
The Kudlow Report, Cooperman made a surprising statement that presumably reflected a shift in his outlook. He told Larry, “I think the stock market presently is fairly valued. I believe the profit cycle is peaking.”

Cooperman went on to say that the market multiple may be too high.
“Historically the market multiple is around 15,” said Cooperman, but over the past 50 years or so the growth rate has been much more robust. If we’re moving into a period of slower growth than the premium investors are willing to pay for stocks will probably decline. 

That’s not to say Cooperman is a seller – he’s not. “I’m not aggressively bullish or bearish,” he explained, “I’m simply saying I think the market is now fairly valued.”

And he reiterated something he’s said many times before. 

“If you must put money to work I still don’t think there’s a better alternative than common stocks – the Fed has made all the alternatives very unappealing."

Nonetheless, his commentary suggests his outlook is shifting.

Cooperman also told Larry Kudlow that he thought all the concerns about the fiscal cliff or the confluence of tax hikes and spending cuts that could go into effect as soon as January 1st
 – are overblown.

“They’ll kick the can down the road,” he said. “There’s no way a politician will allow the cliff to hit.”

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Does the Fed Have Grave Concerns About the Economy?

On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve re-affirmed its commitment to using unconventional efforts to stimulate the economy.

In the latest Fed statement, the central bank said it would keep buying $40 billion in mortgage-backed debt per month to push interest rates lower.

The Fed also repeated its vow to keep interest rates near zero until mid-2015.

Although that may seem like the Fed is sending a signal to markets that they’re intent to drive the economy, no matter what the cost – that may not be what the Fed is really saying.

According to former Fed Governor Kevin Warsh the move isn’t a show of strength – it’s something far more ominous.

“I think the Fed revealed in their actions just how grave they think the economy is,” he said on The Kudlow Report.

The statement shows, “just how concerned they are about the economy’s prospects – just how concerned they are about the 'fiscal cliff' and Europe.”

Warsh served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from 2006 to 2011. From 2002 to 2006, Warsh was Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, and Executive Secretary of the National Economic Council.

His take on the Fed – as someone who was once on the inside – is that the Fed feels they’re the only institution standing between the nation and a terrible downturn.

“The central bankers feel their doing it all by themselves – that they’re not getting help from Congress or the administration.”

It seems Wall Street may share the skepticism expressed by Warsh. Again both the Dow and S&P closed lower.