As the S&P 500 climbs higher and higher, its trailing 12-month P/E ratio continues to climb as well. And there won’t be much opportunity for multiple compression until the bulk of S&P 500 companies report Q4 numbers in late January.
As shown below, the S&P’s 12-month P/E is now at 22.88 — just a hair below 23.
Below is a chart showing the S&P’s P/E ratio going back to 1980. The line is red when the P/E ratio is above the level it’s at right now. As you can see, there have only been a few periods over the last 35+ years where the index’s P/E was higher. It didn’t once get above this level during the 2002-2007 bull market, but it was consistently above 23 during the final three years of the bull market that ended in early 2000. From 1998 to 2000, the S&P’s P/E expanded from 23 up to 30+ as the Dot Com bubble reached its zenith. Over this period, the S&P experienced a massive rally as the Tech sector soared. While valuations are indeed elevated right now, we always note that high valuations alone are not a catalyst for corrections or bear markets.