Is the ASX over-priced?

On the weekend I discussed how earnings for the S&P 500 have grown by roughly 6.0% over the last three decades but the growth rate should rise as stock buybacks have averaged just over 3.0% a year since 2011. In an ideal world the growth rate would lift to close to 9.0% p.a. if buybacks continue at the present rate. Add a 2.0% dividend yield and we have an expected annual return close to 11.0%.

Forward Price Earnings Ratio for S&P 500

I conducted a similar exercise for the ASX using data supplied by marketindex.com.au.

The first noticeable difference is that earnings for the ASX All Ordinaries Index grew at a slower pace. Earnings since 1980 grew at an average compound annual growth rate of 4.4%, while dividends grew at a much higher rate of 6.3%.

Forward Price Earnings Ratio for S&P 500

How is that possible?

Well the dividend payout ratio increased from the low forties to the high seventies. An average of just over 60%.

With a current payout ratio of 77% (Feb 2017), there is little room to increase the payout ratio any further. I expect dividend growth to match earnings growth (4.4% p.a.) for the foreseeable future.

Buybacks are not a major feature on the ASX, where investors favor dividends because of the franking credits. The dividend yield is higher, at just over 4.0%, for the same reason.

So the expected average return on the All Ordinaries Index should be no higher than 8.4% p.a. (the sum of dividend yield and expected growth) compared to an expected return of close to 11.0% for the S&P 500. That is, if buybacks are effective in lifting the earnings growth rate.

Obviously one has to factor in expected changes in the (AUDUSD) exchange rate, but that is a substantial difference for offshore investors. Local investors are also taking into account franking credits which benefit could amount to an additional 1.4% p.a.. But that still leaves a grossed-up return just shy of 10 percent (9.8% p.a.).

I would have expected a larger risk premium for a smaller exchange with strong commodity exposure.

The Stock Market’s Missing Ingredient | Bloomberg View

Barry Ritholz discusses why military conflicts around the globe and civil strife in Ferguson, Missouri have little impact on market performance:

….None of this seems to matter to Mr. Market. He continues to power on, oblivious to issues that don’t affect corporate earnings. They have, by the way, been stellar, growing at a 9 percent annual rate. Meanwhile, interest rates are still low and inflation is subdued.

Rarely have conditions for market gains been so promising at a time when investor psychology has been so negative. Gallup reports that only 7 percent of those surveyed were aware of last year’s scorching [29.7%] gains in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

via The Stock Market's Missing Ingredient – Bloomberg View.

Ten companies most of S&P 500 Earnings Growth | The Big Picture

Barry Ritholz quotes Adam Parker at Morgan Stanley:

….88% of the S&P500 earnings growth for 2012 came from just 10 firms.

Makes you question whether earnings are sustainable — especially when the four biggest are Apple, AIG, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America.

via 4 Companies Provided Half of SPX 2012 Earnings Growth | The Big Picture.