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Overvalued & Underbought

With all the bad news that has been dumped upon the economy for some reason the stock market is going up. Why?

The SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) has just set up new guidelines for core earnings. No more proforma computations. You know what proforma means - the company CEO or Treasurer waves his magic wand and says this is what I expect to appear as soon as I let the genii out of the bottle. And pigs can fly. These imaginary numbers may give his company a Price/Earnings ration of 20 which is pretty good by today's standards.

Now those mean guys in Washington have said you must reevaluate your earnings but this time figure in your stock options, pension costs and any restructuring charges. Holy Cow, that makes the P/E ratio 37. And that ain't no bargain when you are buying stock. The 100 year average has run about a 14 P/E. If the company has not been paying any dividends then this is a stock that must be suspect for any long term holding.

Because of these new guidelines the entire S&P Index P/E has gone from a 33 to 49. That is much better than it was in January 2002 when it reached 69. This number makes the entire market overvalued and still leaves me with the question of how can the market advance using these high P/Es?

There are a couple of answers and neither may be the right one.

The market has become severely oversold. The bear people have been riding it down until the news media finally recognized we have a long-term bear market. There have become too many traders who think there is no bottom and are willing to sell anything and everything. Enter the trading bargain hunters. It will now be the bears turn to be punished.

It takes money to put the market up. Where is that coming from? Our white knight, Sir Greenspan, has come in with his bags of money this past week. Look past our borders and you will see stock exchanges in every major country in the world that look sicker than ours. Foreign investors want a new home for their money and it seems the U.S. market looks darn good. As that money has started buying you may begin to see pension plan and mutual fund managers coming into the market.

The talking heads on TV and radio will give many other reasons that can be fueling the market advance and they may also be correct. Our market may be overvalued as we see it, but to others it looks like a bargain. Money is always looking for the greatest return and with wire transfers billions of dollars can and does move in a matter of hours. Oversold to the foreign market traders means underbought. It seems they have put on their buying clothes and want a piece of the action as our market is headed up - at least for a while.

(c) 2005

Al Thomas' best selling book, "If It Doesn't Go Up, Don't Buy It!" has helped thousands of people make money and keep their profits with his simple 2-step method. Read the first chapter to receive his market letter for 3 months at www.mutualfundmagic.com to discover why he's the man that Wall Street does not want you to know.

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