S&P 5,250 – Dow 40,000

We were bullish in 2021 and bullishness obviously paid off. As of the Friday close, the S&P 500 is up more than 25% so far this year. Meanwhile, a 10-year Treasury Note purchased at the end of 2020 has generated a negative total return, as interest earnings have been more than offset by capital losses.

The reason we were bullish a year ago even amid widespread fears about COVID-19, is because we stick to fundamentals, assessing fair value by using economy-wide profits and interest rates, what we call our Capitalized Profits Model. And, one year, later, we are still sticking with fundamentals. Our year-end 2022 call for the S&P 500 is 5,250 (up 11.4% from last Friday), and we expect the Dow Jones Industrial Average to rise to 40,000.

The Capitalized Profits Model takes the government's measure of profits from the GDP reports, discounted by the 10-year US Treasury note yield, to calculate fair value. Corporate profits for the third quarter were up 20.7% versus a year ago, up 22.3% versus the pre-COVID peak at the end of 2019, and at a record high.

The key question then becomes what discount rate should we use? If we use 1.50%, roughly the current 10-year Treasury yield, our model suggests the S&P 500 is grossly undervalued. But, with the Federal Reserve still holding short-term interest rates at artificially low levels, the 10-year yield might be artificially low, as well.

So, to be cautious, we plug in some alternative higher long-term interest rates. Using third quarter profits, it would take a 10-year yield of about 2.75% for our model to show that the stock market is currently trading at fair value. And that assumes no further growth in profits.