Yellen's "Irrational Exuberance" Moment Arrives As She Pops Momo, Biotech, Social Media Bubble
On one hand Janet Yellen, Series 7, 63-certified, and a consummate expert on equity valuation said the following soothing words about market values:
While prices of real estate, equities, and corporate bonds have risen appreciably and valuation metrics have increased, they remain generally in line with historical norms. In some sectors, such as lower-rated corporate debt, valuations appear stretched and issuance has been brisk.
On the other, and sadly for holders of biotech and social media stocks, Yellen appears to have just burst that particular bubble.
Nevertheless, valuation metrics in some sectors do appear substantially stretched—particularly those for smaller firms in the social media and biotechnology industries, despite a notable downturn in equity prices for such firms early in the year. Moreover, implied volatility for the overall S&P 500 index, as calculated from option prices, has declined in recent months to low levels last recorded in the mid-1990s and mid-2000s, reflecting improved market sentiment and, perhaps, the influence of “reach for yield” behavior by some investors....
... signs of risk-taking have increased in some asset classes. Equity valuations of smaller firms as well as social media and biotechnology firms appear to be stretched, with ratios of prices to forward earnings remaining high relative to historical norms. Beyond equities, risk spreads for corporate bonds have narrowed and yields have reached all-time lows. Issuance of speculative-grade corporate bonds and leveraged loans has been very robust, and underwriting standards have loosened. For example, average debt-to-earnings multiples have risen, and the share rated B or below has moved up further for leveraged loans.
Call it Yellen's "irrational exuberance" moment. Also call it a warning.
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