Wall Street’s biggest bull is standing by his call that the S&P 500 will jump 12 percent by the end of 2018 as the broad market index nears highs not seen since January.
In less than five months, the index will hit 3,200 points by year-end as a healthy economic backdrop and robust corporate earnings support the historic bull market, wrote Canaccord Genuity strategist Tony Dwyer. Optimism among businesses and consumers alike, combined with continued positive quarterly results, suggest “there is a long way to go” despite persistent tariff and trade headlines, he contended.
Our “core thesis suggests any pause in the upside should be considered opportunity,” Dwyer said in a note to clients Tuesday. “There is no doubt the unpredictable news backdrop of a potential trade war with China and a rise back to 3 percent in the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield can cause increased volatility, but the fundamental backdrop commands using it as an opportunity to add risk.”
As the most most bullish strategist of all strategists tracked in CNBC’s regular survey, Dwyer expects the S&P 500 to rally well beyond its all-time high of 2,872.87, which it clinched on Jan. 26. A spike in market volatility based on fears of higher borrowing costs sent the major stock indexes tumbling more than 10 percent from those benchmarks earlier this year before anxieties surrounding rampant inflation calmed.
The S&P 500 (as well as the other major indexes) have since pared those losses on the back of economic growth and robust corporate earnings; the index was 0.5 percent away from a new high Thursday morning.
“The second quarter annualized gross domestic product (GDP) and final sales report made clear that both businesses and consumers are in the spending mood following the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017,” Dwyer added. “Second-quarter SPX operating earnings per share now look to be up 24 percent, with 79 percent of those having reported beating expectations! Confirming the stronger willingness of businesses and consumers to spend, SPX top-line growth should be up 9.4 percent.”
The bullish estimates top those of peers like Morgan Stanley’s Mike Wilson, who has repeatedly cautioned investors throughout 2018 and projects 3.7 percent downside from the stock market’s current level by the end of the year. His latest warning highlighted that the number of Nasdaq stocks clinching records continues on a downward trend.
“Fewer stocks are carrying the load of the market, a sign of exhaustion and, in our view, a bad signal for further price gains,” wrote Wilson — the biggest bear in the CNBC survey — in a note published Monday. “Our market view this year has been shaped by the idea that the continued tightening of global liquidity, a peak rate of change on economic and earnings growth, and a continued rise in inflation would be a difficult combination for risk assets to handle without some pain.”
Morgan Stanley, which downgraded the technology sector to underweight earlier this year, added that Apple’s recent climb to a $1 trillion market cap sounded less like a reason to celebrate and more like a “‘ringing of the bell.'”
“We believe there is still more to the story and can’t help but think that Apple hitting $1 trillion could be a meaningful historical marker for a tradable top when we look back at this period,” Wilson added. “We are sticking with our underweight tech call as we think that rolling relative earnings revisions in some areas of tech, continued defensive leadership, breadth/price divergences, rolling PMIs, and a breakdown in both legs of momentum all augur poorly for tech, growth, momentum, and the overall market.”
Wilson’s 12-month target for the S&P 500 is 2,750 points.