The rally in the first two weeks of January was based on expectations that we would have a decent reporting period. Largely, that's been true, with many earnings reports meeting or topping estimates. But unfortunately, the commentary about the future has been a huge downer. That's one of the things holding investors back now.
These companies are actually growing, ... The whole group is growing somewhere between 10 and 13 percent relative earnings growth and the price-earnings ratios are about 13 to 14 times. It's one of the few groups out there that are actually selling at their growth rate in terms of price-earnings ratio. And, right now, it's strange -- people don't like the group. It isn't a hot group.
There's a pause today, but the bulls still have the upper hand. The economic releases continue to support the case for strong economic growth through 2004 and a continued recovery in the labor market. Yet there are still plenty of skeptical people out there, suggesting the market could continue to build on the gains.
I think what we have is a recognition by investors that there is some decent value at this price. But whether they have the intestinal fortitude to stay during further adverse times is still unanswered. Today, they seem to have rallied based on the expectation that there is cheapness in some of these stocks.