David Kostin, chief U.S. equity strategist at Goldman Sachs (GS), says the comparison between the recent stock market sell-off and that in March 2000, when the tech bubble burst, “dominated client discussions” last week.
“The current sell-off in high-growth and high-valuation stocks, with a concentration in technology subsectors, has some similarities to the popping of the tech bubble in 2000,” he writes in a note.
“Veteran investors will recall the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq peaked in March 2000. The indices eventually fell by 50% and 75%, respectively. It took the S&P 500 seven years to recover and establish a new high, but the Nasdaq still remains 25% below its all-time peak reached 14 years ago.”
However, according to Kostin, there are six ways in which the two episodes differ:
Recent returns are less dramatic. Although the trailing 12-month returns are similar (22% today versus 18% in 2000), the trailing 3-year and 5-year returns are much lower (51% vs. 107% and 161% vs. 227%, respectively).
Valuation is not nearly as stretched. S&P 500 currently trades at a forward P/E of 16x compared with 25x at the peak in 2000. The price/book ratio is 2.7x versus 6.Xx. The EV/sales is currently 1.8x compared with 2.7x in 2000.
More balanced market. The reason it is called the “Tech Bubble” is that 14% of the earnings of the S&P 500 came from Tech in 2000 but it accounted for 33% of the equity cap of the index. Today Tech contributes 19% of both earnings and market cap. Top five stocks in 2000 were 18% vs. 11% today.
Earnings growth expectations are far less aggressive. Bottom-up 2014 consensus EPS growth currently equals 9%, close to our top-down forecast of 8%. In 2000, consensus expected EPS growth equaled 17%.
Interest rates are dramatically lower. 3-month Treasury yields were 5.9% in 2000 vs. 0.05% today while ten-year yields were 6.0% vs. 2.7% today. The yield curve was inverted by 47 bp. Today the slope equals +229 bp.
Less new issuance. During 1Q 2000, 115 IPOs were completed for proceeds of $18 billion. In 1Q 2014, 63 completed deals raised $11 billion.
Kostin says based on historical patterns, momentum stocks are unlikely to rebound, but the broader market should still be set for modest returns going forward.