Monday, January 11, 2010

Will Money Flow from Bonds to Stocks?

Maybe it will, but I believe any such shifts will be made slowly. In my opinion, the driver of stocks in 2010 will be earnings, and the Fed. Investors that moved from stocks to bonds last year need time to believe in the stock market again.

Here's a good comment from Mary Ann Bartels, technical strategist at Merrill Lynch, in her weekly strategy piece:

Investors may remain conservative

There is much chatter over fund flows into bonds (+ $300 billion) versus the
outflows in stocks (~$30 billion) in 2009. There are many that believe this
allocation to bonds will shift back to stocks as well as a portion of the high level of
cash still on the sidelines. Investors may return more slowly to the equity market
than historically has been the case as they have been hit by two major equity bear
markets combined with a housing bear market. The last time investors faced two
major equity bear markets was 1968-1970 and 1973-1974. As a result they
lowered their total stock and mutual fund holdings as a percentage of financial
assets from a peak of 35% to below 15%. They did not return in earnest until the
secular bull market of 1982 began.

What is different this time is the low interest rate environment. Investors will likely seek-out yield. Yield can be found in the equity market – in mega cap high quality companies.