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Are stocks overvalued?

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  • Richard W. Kopcke

Abstract

By most standards, the price of equities in the United States has risen remarkably rapidly during the last 15 years. Since 1994 alone, the Standard & Poor's index of 500 stock prices has doubled. Although the rapid growth of corporations' profits has propelled the price of their stock, shareholders also are willing to pay a greater price per dollar of their companies' profits, and the valuation of corporations' earnings is now nearly as high as it has been since World War II. For the moment, the value of equity may rest on the growth of earnings, but in the longer run the price of stocks depends on the return that corporations earn on their investments, the growth of their opportunities for making new investments without sacrificing their return, and the return that shareholders require of their stocks.> This article compares the recent price of stocks to traditional standards for valuing equities, finding not only that prices are high by almost all measures but also that the appreciation of equity has been exceptionally dependable. The author uses a simple model to compare the recent data for returns and growth with the value of equity, concluding that companies' recent performance does not support fully the current price of stocks. Although the current values of corporations' assets and earnings in financial markets exceed those that prevailed in the 1970s, the rate of return earned by corporations is only three-quarters as great as it was in the 1970s. The author concludes that a lower shareholders' discount rate, perhaps fostered by the consistently high growth of profits during much of the 1990s, could explain the prevailing value of equities.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard W. Kopcke, 1997. "Are stocks overvalued?," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Sep, pages 21-40.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbne:y:1997:i:sep:p:21-40
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Andrew B. Abel, 1991. "The equity premium puzzle," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Sep, pages 3-14.
    2. Miller, Merton H. & Scholes, Myron S., 1978. "Dividends and taxes," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 333-364, December.
    3. Tobin, James, 1969. "A General Equilibrium Approach to Monetary Theory," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 1(1), pages 15-29, February.
    4. Peter Fortune, 1991. "Stock market efficiency: an autopsy?," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Mar, pages 17-40.
    5. Richard W. Kopcke, 1988. "Inflation, taxes, and interest rates," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Jul, pages 3-14.
    6. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 1996. "The Equity Premium: It's Still a Puzzle," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 42-71, March.
    7. Merton H. Miller & Franco Modigliani, 1961. "Dividend Policy, Growth, and the Valuation of Shares," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34, pages 411-411.
    8. Poterba, James M. & Summers, Lawrence H., 1988. "Mean reversion in stock prices : Evidence and Implications," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 27-59, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bohl, Martin T. & Siklos, Pierre L., 2004. "The present value model of U.S. stock prices redux: a new testing strategy and some evidence," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 208-223, May.
    2. Binswanger, Mathias, 2004. "How important are fundamentals?--Evidence from a structural VAR model for the stock markets in the US, Japan and Europe," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 185-201, April.
    3. Nathan S. Balke & Mark E. Wohar, 2001. "Explaining stock price movements: is there a case for fundamentals?," Economic and Financial Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, issue Q III, pages 22-34.
    4. Robertson, Donald & Wright, Stephen, 1998. "The Good News and the Bad News about Long-run Stock Market Returns," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 9822, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.

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    Keywords

    Stocks;

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