Lots of people have been discussing how negative investor sentiment is, showing the chart above. It shows markets making new all time highs as expectations that markets will be higher six months hence is at a mere 19% of AAII respondents. (See Individual Investors Are An Emotional Wreck And It Is Astonishingly Bullish, Investors are Liars, and AAII: Cash Allocations at a 16-Month High).
Jason Goepfert at Sentiment Trader notes that “Individual Investors Are Not Buying It.”
“If the numbers stand, then we’re seeing a remarkable exit from public markets among individuals . . . The latest weekly survey of expectations for the stock market showed that only 19% of respondents expected the market to head higher over the next six months. That’s the lowest reading since near the bottom of the bear market in 2009.
Investors’ skepticism in the face of new highs proved to be a decent sign going forward, especially in the shorter-term of 1-2 weeks. That’s when the S&P’s out-performance after any other 3-month high was the greatest. After that, it evened out and fell more in line with a random return.”
Let’s put this into a more quantitative context than the pure, “too bearish” framework.
In the table above, Jason put the too bearish meme into the richer context of what occurred in the past when markets hit 3 month high (as they have been doing) and at the same time saw sentiment all to 3 month lows.
The results were impressive: Positive 87% of the time, with median gains of 11.2%.
My explanation: Investors being this negative at the same time as markets hitting all time highs suggest to me that they are under-invested in equities and are frustrated they have missed the run up. The past history shown by Goepfert also suggests they will eventually acquiesce, and join the long side.
If you want to use sentiment as Contrary Indicator, that capitulation will set up your top and reversal. We are not, however, anywhere close to that point.
click for larger table
Individual Investors Are Not Buying It
Sentiment Trader, April 11, 2013