MARKETS

The man who almost perfectly caught the market bottom four years ago still sees promise in the stock market, even if the bull is nearing its end, writes MoneyShow's Howard R. Gold, also of The Independent Agenda.

So here we are, nearly four years into a bull market, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 indexes 114% and 124% higher. Individual investors are starting to buy US stock funds again. Some experts worry that we’ve come too far, too fast.

Not Jim Stack. The veteran financial guru, who sets up shop far from Wall Street’s madding crowd in Whitefish, Montana, is still inhaling optimism along with the mountain air.

Stack Financial Management has $750 million in assets, and his InvesTech Research routinely ranks high among newsletters for its risk-adjusted performance, according to the Hulbert Financial Digest. Having called the beginning of this bull market in 2009 when virtually nobody else (including yours truly) did, he’s stuck to his guns ever since.

When I last caught up with him a year ago, he was bullish. Citing “extremes of fear,” he told me market conditions were “weighted in the investor’s favor.”

“We’re just not seeing the usual warning flags,” he said then. And the S&P 500 surged 16% in 2012—and it’s up nearly 10% since that column ran.

Now, Stack acknowledges, the bull is a year older, but he’s just as bullish.

“This bull market has strength and legs,” he told me in a phone interview. “Right now, it’s the same position we had last year, if not even stronger.”

“I don’t know if we’ll have another 16% gain, but I wouldn’t rule out a double-digit gain for 2013,” he continued.

The market has displayed “an amazing resilience,” he wrote recently.

Again, he looks to the underlying strength of the economy. “It’s surprising, [but the] economy has continued on a relatively stable level,” he said.

In fact, one big negative from last year is gone. “Housing is no longer a drag,” he pointed out. “The confidence of homebuilders is heading straight up.”

And though manufacturing remains weak, “we’re not seeing the drop in the ISM services sector you would normally see...if we were heading into a recession.” And services, of course, is a much bigger part of the economy than manufacturing is.

What about Europe? “Yes, Europe is in a recession, but European recessions do not dictate the outcome of US markets,” Stack replied. According to his research, US markets have advanced during eight of the 13 European recessions over the last 50 years.

Meanwhile, the market’s technical condition remains surprisingly strong. The Dow and S&P are approaching their 2007 highs, while the Dow Jones Transportation Average and the Russell 2000 small-cap index—two key barometers—already have set new records.

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