by Steve Saville, The Speculative Investor
In the late stages of every long-term bull market there has been a widely-believed, simple story for why prices will continue to rise despite high valuations.
In the early-1970s the story was the “nifty fifty”. The belief was that a group of 50 popular large-cap NYSE-traded stocks could be bought at any price because the quality and the growth-rates of the underlying companies virtually guaranteed that stock prices would maintain their upward trends. The “nifty fifty” not only collapsed with the overall market during 1973-1974, most members of the group under-performed the overall market from 1973 to 1982.
In 1999-2000 the story was the “technology-driven productivity miracle”. The belief was that due to accelerating technological progress and the internet it was reasonable to value almost any company with a web site at hundreds of millions of dollars and it was reasonable to pay at least 50-times annual revenue for any company with a decent high-tech product. Most of our readers will remember how that worked out.