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Biggest S&P 500 Bear Is Unbowed by Rally, Sets 2020 Target at 3,000

Lu Wang
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Biggest S&P 500 Bear Is Unbowed by Rally, Sets 2020 Target at 3,000

(Bloomberg) -- Wall Street’s biggest equity bear is undaunted by a rally pushing the market to a record high, setting a 2020 price target for the S&P 500 that’s more than 3% below its current level.

Francois Trahan, head of U.S. equity strategy at UBS Group AG, predicted that the S&P 500 will end next year at 3,000. His 2019 target of 2,550, the lowest among strategists tracked by Bloomberg, looks like a long shot with the index now trading near 3,100.

Still, he’s not wavering on his bleak view. While the latest rally in cyclical shares reflects rising confidence in a snap-back in growth, Trahan said the economy may not bottom out until the second half of next year. At $170 a share, his 2020 profit forecast trails the average estimate of $177.40 from analysts compiled by Bloomberg.

“We see the coming year as having two distinct phases for equities as markets transition from slowdown to recovery,” Trahan wrote in a note to clients. “A decline in S&P 500 forward EPS remains the biggest threat to equities near-term.”

Among strategists who have provided forecasts for next year, Trahan remains as the most pessimistic. Tony Dwyer at Canaccord projects 3,350 while David Kostin at Goldman Sachs sees 3,400. Tobias Levkovich at Citigroup predicts 3,300.

Many prognosticators have under-estimated the market strength this year as the S&P 500 has surged more than 20% to record highs, bolstered by monetary easing and progress in U.S.-China trade talks. Back in January, their average forecast was 2,906. The benchmark now sits about 200 points above that.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lu Wang in New York at lwang8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Brad Olesen at bolesen3@bloomberg.net, Richard Richtmyer, Jennifer Bissell-Linsk

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