I keep reminding viewers of my daily show, The Final Bar (new episodes every weekday at 4pm ET!), that extended bull markets can actually be a little frustrating. While a consistent uptrend in prices tends to be a good thing for long-term investors, two things present quite a challenge.
The first issue is the frequent urge to call a top, expect a top, wish for a top or even brace for a top. At some point, the market will top out and prices will move lower. Until then, calls for a market top are often based more on wishful thinking than legitimate expectation.
The second problem is outperformance. In a down market, it tends to be easier to find stocks that will likely do well. Defensive sectors with high dividend components, such as Utilities and Real Estate, will usually hold up well in cyclical downtrend. But, in an uptrend, when a "rising tide lifts all boats," it can be difficult to identify which stocks will accelerate more than the broader market.
Based on all of the above, here are ten quotes that I feel are incredibly relevant based on the consistent uptrend in the equity markets in recent months:
"The worst crime that an analyst can commit is remaining bearish in the face of a rising market."
- Richard Russell
When you're bullish and the market moves down, that tends to be a forgivable sin. Corrections happen, often at unexpected times. When you're bearish and the market moves up, that is a much more unforgivable action. No one wants to miss the big uptrends. You need to be there!
"Those who do not study the past will repeat its errors. Those who do study it, will find other ways to err!"
- Bob Farrell
I spent some time recently with Ralph Acampora, where he talked about the value of looking at market history to understand how the market moved in different inflationary periods. History doesn't always repeat, but it often rhymes!
"Wall Street is rewarded for activity. My shareholders and I are rewarded for inactivity."
- Guy Spier
Extended uptrends often require little to no action by investors, which can be very difficult to remember. We usually think of investing, by definition, as taking some sort of action. Long-term investing during longer uptrends can often be kind of boring. That's a good thing.
"Risk means more things can happen than will happen."
- Elroy Dimson
We often speculate on when a correction will come (see the Peter Lynch quote below!) but, in my opinion, risk management isn't about expecting a negative outcome, it's about having a good game plan for when a negative outcome erupts.
"Divergences are like laxatives. You never know if one is enough or two is too many."
- Justin Mamis
In an extended uptrend, there will be many bearish divergences suggesting a potential exhaustion. Many of these will resolve to the upside as the long-term momentum remains positive. Divergences should put something on your radar, but a price breakdown is more of a trigger to follow.
"There are no new eras - excesses are never permanent."
- Bob Farrell
History is filled with periods that investors thought were different, where new business models would work in spite of what later emerges as clear evidence to the contrary. The market moves in excesses, and all trends come to an end.
"Bull markets are born on pessimism, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism and die on euphoria."
- Sir John Templeton
The real question is what euphoria actually looks like at the time. Euphoria seems very obvious in the rearview mirror, once the market has sold off and we can analyze the conditions in the late stages of the bull phase. But, at the time, bubbles continue to float higher even if the justification seems questionable.
"Any bull market covers a multitude of sins, so there may be all sorts of problems with the current system that we won't see until the bear market comes."
- Ron Chernow
Bear markets always bring much more clarity to the previous bull market. The late 1990s made sense only after the early 2000s and the tech bubble burst. Everyone's a genius in a bull market.
"Far more money has been lost by investors preparing for corrections, or trying to anticipate corrections, than has been lost in corrections themselves."
- Peter Lynch
"Don't waste too much time anticipating when exactly a correction will occur. Instead, spend time developing a game plan that will kick on when certain corrective conditions are met. Rest easy.
"The most bullish thing the market can do is go up."
- Paul Montgomery
If you remember any of the above quotes, remember this one. We can endlessly debate why a market is moving up, what the catalysts are, who is doing the buying, etc. In the end, an uptrend is an uptrend. Simple as that.
David Keller, CMT
Chief Market Strategist
David Keller, CMT is Chief Market Strategist at StockCharts.com, where he helps investors minimize behavioral biases through technical analysis. He is also President and Chief Strategist at Sierra Alpha Research LLC, a boutique investment research firm focused on managing risk through market awareness. He is a Past President of the Chartered Market Technician (CMT) Association and most recently served as a Subject Matter Expert for Behavioral Finance. David was formerly a Managing Director of Research at Fidelity Investments in Boston as well as a technical analysis specialist for Bloomberg in New York. You can follow his thinking at MarketMisbehavior.com, where he explores the relationship between behavioral psychology and the financial markets.
Disclaimer: This blog is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as financial advice. The ideas and strategies should never be used without first assessing your own personal and financial situation or without consulting a financial professional.
The author does not have a position in mentioned securities at the time of publication. Any opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views or opinions of any other person or entity.