A theme of mine in recent weeks, as well as for 2010, is that the stock market has risen 70% from the March lows and has begun to price in the current consensus forecast of $75 in S&P 500 earnings, which would be a 35% increase from 2009. As a result, I think the Wall Street strategist consensus of a 10 -15% market gain this year seems overly optimistic. It is far more likely that earnings come in below $75 than above that level.. not a good risk-reward trade off.
Last evening we got the first big earnings report from the fourth quarter (Intel), they blew away the numbers (40 cents vs 30 cent estimate) and the stock is down this morning. JPM reported a decent number this morning (beat on earnings, light on sales) and it is down too. Whenever you see stocks not go up on good news, it is typically a clear sign that the markets have priced in the good news.
Despite a cautious market outlook short term, there are still good investments out there. I will share a couple in coming weeks to halt the post-holiday lull in postings on this site.