It's only April and the S&P 500 has already reached Goldman Sachs' year-end target of 2,100.
Now the firm's clients are wondering what they should do for the rest of the year. Sell in April and come back in January? While the team at Goldman, led by Chief U.S. Equity Strategist David Kostin, doesn't think there is much upside to the overall market, they do think there are select opportunities for those willing to do some stock picking.
"We expect stocks with above-average dividend yield and growth will beat the flat S&P 500 return we predict over the next eight months," they write in their weekly kickstart note. "We prefer the combination of value, yield, and growth because yield-focused strategies may be at risk if the Fed decides to hike more than the market now expects."
Stocks in Goldman's dividend growth basket include Best Buy Inc., Wyndham Worldwide Corporation, The Hershey Company, Marathon Petroleum Corporation, Morgan Stanley, Pfizer Inc., The Boeing Company, and Microsoft Corporation among others. Stocks in the basket have 2016 dividend growth estimates between 3 and 43 percent, with the median sitting at 13 percent. Dividend growth has played an important part in the bull market that began in 2009, convincing many to invest in stocks rather than bonds. This growth has become harder to find recently, especially in the energy sector as oil remains below $50 a barrel. What's more, a number of high dividend stocks have some of the highest valuations in the market, making that trifecta hard to find.
After having one of the worst starts to the year on record, the S&P 500 has come roaring back and now sits roughly two percent higher than where it started 2016. Goldman has one of the lowest S&P targets on the street at 2,100, while firms like Barclays PLC and Deutsche Bank AG expect another four to seven percent rise over the next eight months.
Goldman says it is maintaining its glass half-empty approach due to projected U.S. growth at an average of 1.8 percent this year, flat earnings and the fact that "the median stock in the S&P 500 trades at the 96th percentile of historical valuation."