Abby Joseph Cohen Says Stock Valuations Are Looking ‘Supported’

(Bloomberg) -- The $4 trillion wipeout in U.S. equities since late September has taken stock valuations that once were stretched back down to levels with a stronger justification in earnings, Abby Joseph Cohen, a senior investment strategist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., said in an interview on Bloomberg TV.

“I’m not making any recommendations about what to do today, tomorrow, this month, but it looks like the valuation that was stretched when the S&P got to 2,950 has come back down to levels that are supported by the fundamentals,” she said.

The S&P 500 Index is set for its worst year since the financial crisis, as rising interest rates and the spat with China have prompted a global exit from stocks. The valuation of U.S. stocks now sits at levels last seen in 2013, with the S&P 500 trading at an estimated price-earnings ratio of about 14 times, compared with 18 times at the start of the year.

Investors see the threat of the government shutdown in Washington as well as White House cabinet changes as a “very big deal,” said Joseph Cohen, who in the 1990s was the most famous equity strategist in America. The abrupt resignation of U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has governments from Seoul to Brussels on edge whereas concern about a partial U.S. government shutdown have added to the list of headwinds facing riskier assets this week.

“Everyone just wants to take a deep breath, revisit the numbers, and the certainty many people felt as recently as six weeks ago, that really is no longer in play,” said Joseph Cohen. “The market action itself tells the story, where there aren’t that many players that seem anxious to catch the falling knife. Many are just waiting for things to slow down so they can reassess.”

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