Now might be a good time to buy.
That’s the takeaway from a recent Morningstar analysis, which reported in on a seeming contradiction in stock prices. The market as a whole, Morningstar writes, is expensive. But those prices are a bargain compared to what the underlying companies generally should cost.
At threshold level, stock prices have gone way, way up over the last several years. As Morningstar writes, its U.S. Market Index is up about 8.6% in 2023 alone and 16.2% over the recent low last October. That’s despite 2022’s inflation, which has largely but not yet completely abated, and ongoing concerns of a potential recession in late 2023.
“We still think the U.S. equity market looks expensive and has been getting more expensive since the start of the year,” wrote Morningstar while quoting Jim Masturzo, chief investment officer of multi-asset strategies at Research Affiliates. “The market is holding up well given the macroeconomic environment.”
So where can investors find the best bargains?
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For the Best Bargains, Look to Value Stocks
Look at the S&P 500, and you’ll also see lofty share prices. From an October 2022 low around 3,500, the S&P 500 is now back to hovering near 4,200 points. Even if you disregard the March, 2020 low as an aberration, this is a huge gain from the S&P 500’s pre-Covid value of around 3,300 points.
So the stock market is doing well, with high prices that are going steadily up. Much of that, writes Morningstar, is down to technology stocks that have posted huge gains in recent months and years. These are “the big technology stocks that dominate the weightings in broad market indexes, such as Apple (AAPL) — up 35% in 2023 — and Alphabet (GOOGL) — is up 39% so far this year. That, say some strategists, has left large growth stocks particularly expensive.”
Expensive is one word for it. At time of writing Apple traded for $177 and Alphabet for $123. Stocks like Tesla (TSLA) and Meta (META) traded for $197 and…