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Challenging Standard & Poor’s 500 Index

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Dr. Jeremy Siegel Opines

[By Staff Reporters]56371606

According to Financial Advisor News – an electronic trade magazine on March 17 2009 – Standard & Poor’s underestimate the earnings of its S&P 500 Index. So says, Jeremy Siegel PhD, a finance professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and author of Stocks for the Long Run.

The Dilemma

The problem started when the Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed piece by Siegel that argued Standard & Poor’s uses a “bizarre” methodology for calculating the earnings and P/E ratio for the S&P 500. In it, Siegel explained that the earnings of S&P 500 companies are currently treated equally, but should instead be weighted in proportion to their market capitalization. Market capitalization weighting, he noted, is used to measure the S&P 500 returns. Such a system gives larger weight to the earnings of a company such as Exxon-Mobil, and lower weight to an S&P 500 member such as Jones Apparel.

Siegel’s Example

For example, “a 10% rise in Exxon-Mobil’s price would boost the S&P 500 by 4.64 index points, while the same fall in Jones Apparel would have no impact since the change is far less than the one-hundredth of one point to which the index is routinely rounded,” Siegel wrote.

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Outcome

As a result of the above, if capitalization weightings were applied to 2008, the earnings of S&P 500 companies would have been $71.10 per share instead of $39.73 per share.

S&P’s Support

In response, an S&P official said Siegel’s argument “fails the test of both logic and index mathematics.”

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3 Responses

  1. What Is a Stock Index?

    In 1884, Charles Henry Dow averaged the closing prices of 11 stocks he considered representative of the strength of the U.S. economy in a paper that preceded The Wall Street Journal. By 1896, The Wall Street Journal was publishing this average on a regular basis, and the most famous indicator of stock market performance was born: the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA or Dow).

    Most people have heard of the Dow, as well as a few other well-known stock indexes that track the overall direction of the market. Indexes and averages serve as useful benchmarks against which investors can measure the performance of their own portfolios. Depending on its makeup, a stock index can give investors some idea about the state of the market as a whole or a certain sector of the market. Conceptually, a shift in the price of an index represents an equitable change in the stocks included in the index.

    Basically, indexes are imaginary portfolios of securities that represent a particular market or section of the market. Each index has its own method of calculating a change in its base value, often expressed as a percentage change. Thus, you might hear that an index has risen or fallen by a certain percentage. Although you can’t invest directly in an unmanaged index, you can invest in an index mutual fund that attempts to mirror a particular index by investing in the securities that comprise the index. The performance of an unmanaged index is not indicative of the performance of any specific investment.

    Mutual funds are sold by prospectus. Please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses carefully before investing. The prospectus, which contains this and other information about the investment company, can be obtained from your financial professional. Be sure to read the prospectus carefully before deciding whether to invest.

    All the stocks in an index typically have at least one element in common. They might trade on the same stock market exchange, belong to the same industry, or have similar market capitalizations. Some of the more widely known indexes are the Dow, the S&P 500, the Nasdaq Composite, the Wilshire 5000, and the Russell 2000.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average

    The Dow is an index of widely held “blue-chip” stocks that is used as an indicator of the performance of U.S. industrial stocks. Unlike most other major indexes, the stocks in the Dow are unweighted by market capitalization. The 30 stocks included in the Dow are all major factors in their industries. Many have become household names: American Express, Boeing, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Walt Disney, and Wal-Mart.

    S&P 500

    The Standard & Poor’s 500 is an index of 500 of the most widely held stocks — leading companies from all sectors of the economy — chosen for their market size, liquidity, and industry group representation. Because some stocks influence the market more than others, each stock is given a different weight when the calculations are made. This is called “market-capitalization weighting,” which is the type of weighting used for the Nasdaq Composite, the Wilshire 5000, and the Russell 2000. Over 70% of all U.S. equity is tracked by the S&P 500.

    Nasdaq Composite Index

    The National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation system, or NASDAQ, represents all domestic and non-U.S. based common stocks traded on The NASDAQ Stock Market. It includes over 3,000 companies — more than most other stock indexes —many of which are in the technological field. Of course, The NASDAQ Stock Market isn’t restricted to technology issues. Many other well-known companies, such as Starbucks and Amgen, are listed there. The NASDAQ Stock Exchange was established in 1971 as the world’s first electronic stock market.

    Wilshire 5000

    Probably the most broadly based market index is the Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index. Originally comprising 5,000 stocks, the Wilshire 5000 now uses more than 5000 market capitalization–weighted security returns to adjust the index. The index tracks the overall performance of stocks actively traded on the American stock exchanges; the companies are all headquartered in the United States.

    Russell 2000

    Started in 1972, the Russell 2000 Index gauges the performance of 2,000 “small cap” stocks that are often omitted from large indexes. This market capitalization–weighted index serves as a benchmark for small-cap U.S. stocks and could be useful for tracking small companies with growth potential.

    Xavier
    http://www.amazon.com/Financial-Planning-Handbook-Physicians-Advisors/dp/0763745790/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1275315635&sr=1-1

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  2. Beta Rotation Index

    ANN MILLER – We are announcing the launch of the Beta Rotation Index (Ticker: BETAEQ), using the signal outlined in our 2014 Charles H. Dow Award winning paper “An Intermarket Approach to Beta Rotation.”

    Download the full fact sheet by visiting http://files.ctctcdn.com/cfa45cb9201/2f2226c7-c2c9-4326-9bbc-874806f2ce2a.pdf.

    The Beta Rotation Index seeks to:

    1) Remind investors that long-term wealth generation does not come from taking on more risk, but less risk at the right time, and

    2) Serve as a signal for investors that volatility in equities is likely to rise, particularly when the index is up more/down less than the broader S&P 500 Index.

    To learn more about the Index and our investment strategies, feel free to reach out any time. We are currently working on having the BETAEQ Index available on our website at http://www.pensionpartners.com for daily updates.

    Regards,
    Michael A. Gayed CFA
    http://www.amazon.com/Comprehensive-Financial-Planning-Strategies-Advisors/dp/1482240289/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418580820&sr=8-1&keywords=david+marcinko

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  3. INDEX Funds

    Investing legend Jack Bogle says there’s a big problem with index funds; learn why here:

    http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/mutualfunds/investing-legend-jack-bogle-says-theres-a-big-problem-with-index-funds/ar-BBQjNmO?li=BBnb7Kz

    Dilap

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