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Using P/E10 Thresholds to Time the U.S. Stock Market

Posted in Fundamental Valuation

A subscriber requested verification of a fundamental U.S. stock market timing strategy with rebalancing/reallocation of a stocks-bonds portfolio based on Shiller cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio (P/E10 or CAPE) thresholds, as follows:

  1. If P/E10 > 22, hold 40% stocks and 60% bonds.
  2. If 14 < P/E10 < 22, hold 60% stocks and 40% bonds.
  3. If P/E10 < 14, hold 80% stocks and 20% bonds.

The benchmark is an annually rebalanced 60% stocks-40% bonds portfolio (60-40). To assess reasonableness of the P/E10 thresholds chosen, we use P/E10 monthly levels since 1881 and S&P 500 Index monthly returns since 1927. To verify and assess robustness of the specified strategy (P/E10 Timing), we apply it to SPDR S&P 5oo (SPY) since inception in 1993 as stocks and Vanguard Long-Term Treasury Investor Shares (VUSTX) as bonds, with monthly rebalancing/reallocation based on P/E10. We consider gross average monthly and annual returns, standard deviations of monthly and annual returns, compound annual growth rate (CAGR), maximum drawdown (MaxDD), and monthly and annual Sharpe ratio as strategy performance metrics. We use monthly and annual average monthly yield on 3-month U.S. Treasury bills (T-bill) to calculate Sharpe ratios. As an additional benchmark, we include a simple technical strategy that is in SPY when prior-month S&P 500 Index is above its 10-month simple moving average and VUSTX when it is below (SPY SMA10). Using the specified inputs, allowing a P/E10 Timing test of nearly 27 years, we find that:

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