The rationale for the market rally since March 09 has been liquidity pumped by the Fed. The interesting point is that the market decline from summer 2008 to March 2009 has been also explained by the disappearance of liquidity. The disappearance of liquidity was caused by over levered banks.
I am not going to agree or disagree about the causes of the market rally because I can't. I distinguish between causation and correlation. The latter is easy to detect by statistical methods, however the former is almost impossible to prove. So arguing that point is irrelevant. One suffice to note is liquidity can disappear overnight but can't appear in same speed. It takes time.
Most investors, as evident by the decline and rally of the market, value liquidity. They attach a premium to it making liquid assets somewhat expensive to illiquid ones. I am agnostic to liquidity therefore I am not willing to bid more for it. However price is more important. I was a willing buyer from October till May, although in retrospect, regrettably, not enough. Now I am not. Back then the cyclically adjusted PE was around 10, now it is 19, above the long term average of 17. See chart courtesy of Dr. Robert Schiller.
At these levels I am more risk averse. I have sold several positions over the past few weeks for a summary see here and here. I have also wrote calls in American Express (AXP) at $40 which should take out of that position by it expiration next week. Moreover, Burlington BNI have been taken over by Berkshire which should close by early next year. So my cash position is rising so what to do.
In an fair valued or overvalued market I concentrate exclusively on event driven positions, like takeovers, spinoffs, bankruptcies and reorganization and liquidations. My favorite is spin-offs. Some of the opportunities I am looking at:
- AOL spinoff from Time Warner
- Madison Square Garden (MSG) spinoff from Cablevision
- Cloud Peak Energy coal spinoff from metals giant Rio Tinto
- Pharmaceutical Product Development, Inc. (PPDI) Spinoff of Compound Partnering Business.
- SixFlags post bankruptcy equity
- Lear Corp post bankruptcy equity
In an over valued market where you look can be different than an undervalued one, where businesses sell far below their normal earning power value.