The bear market in stocks has a long way to go, this money manager warns. Here are the 2 strategic moves he’s making.

As if everyone isn’t tense enough, bubble expert Jeremy Grantham is warning that we’re in the last throes of a superbubble that’s about to burst. (In fairness, he’s been crash calling for roughly a decade.)

Still, if the big one is out there, it helps to be prepared. Our call of the day comes from Real Investment Advice portfolio manager Michael Lebowitz, who thinks we still may be early in that bear market. He offers up a simple bear market wealth strategy, as buy and hold won’t work in a sticky inflation environment.

He explains in a blog post how RIA repositioned clients’ portfolios to brace for a bear market at the start of this year.

“Sensing the Fed was about to pull the liquidity rug from the markets, we started reducing our risk starting on the first trading day of 2022. Not only did we sell shares to reduce our gross equity exposure, but we rotated from higher-beta growth stocks to lower-beta value stocks,” said Lebowitz.

It cut the percentage allocated to stocks and the types of stocks held, which he said has helped RIA portfolios outperform their benchmarks and all primary stock indexes to date in 2022. He provides a chart showing this strategy’s benefits during the Great Financial Crisis.

As he explains, $10,000 was invested in two scenarios in 2004. The buy-and-hold Scenario A was fully invested at all times, while B is the same except during the 2008 bear market — when it went to 50% in the S&P 500 , the rest in cash earning 0%. Dividends were reinvested for both.

RIA

Scenario B came out stronger because equity exposure was cut in half for two years, said the adviser. This strategy helped his portfolio came out 41% stronger in that period, while similar action in 2020 and 2022 would have meant even better returns, he said.

In follow-up comments to MarketWatch, Lebowitz said RIA cut exposure in terms of allocation and shifted toward lower-beta (less volatile) value stocks at the start of 2022. “We will likely maintain a smaller-than-normal equity allocation until it appears the Fed is truly going to pivot,” he said.

“We gravitated away from tech toward utilities and healthcare, for instance. We also kept our inflation hedge/exposure up with energy and some materials companies,” he said. Some of his holdings include NextEra Energy NEE,
Duke Energy DUK,
AbbVie ABBV,
Abbott Labs ABT,
CVS Health CVS,
Albemarle ALB,
Exxon Mobil XOM
and Devon Energy DVN.

“Lower beta and less exposure has been a big winner thus far,” he said, noting his portfolio was beating its benchmark by 5% by the time the market peaked two weeks ago. He also outpoints value outperforming growth, noting a 9% drop in the iShares S&P 500 Value ETF IVE
versus a 22% drop in the iShares S&P 500 Growth ETF IVW
so far this year.

Lebowitz believes markets are facing liquidity headwinds as the Fed shrinks its balance sheet and focuses more on sticky inflation than the economy.

“This Fed is tasked with a far different task than the Fed we are used to,” said Lebowitz, who worries investors haven’t grasped that. “What concerns me is that this time it’s different.”

Read: Bursts of bullish exuberance are common during bear markets. Getting sucked in is easy

The markets

MarketWatch

Chip makers are dragging stocks DJIA

SPX
south , with Nasdaq COMP
losses out in front. Bonds BX:TMUBMUSD02Y

BX:TMUBMUSD10Y
are again selling off, oil CL
and gold GC00
are down and the dollar DXY
is climbing. BitcoinBTCUSD
is just under $20,000.

And: Crypto.com sues woman after accidentally depositing $10.5 million into her bank account

The buzz

Tesla TSLA
is down on shaky demand for China EV makers like Li Auto LI.
Meanwhile, a COVID-19 lockdown is hitting 21 million residents of China tech and auto hub Chengdu.

Novo Nordisk DK:NOVO
is buying Forma Therapeutics FMTX
in cash deal valued at $1.1 billion.

Chipmaker Nvidia NVDA
is down on news the US is pushing it to curb its China data-center business. Broadcom AVGO
will report after the close.

Elsewhere, MongoDB MDB
is tumbling on a gloomy forecast and Okta OKTA
is down on post-acquisition disorders and employee churn.

Weekly jobless claims dropped to the lowest since late June. Second-quarter labor productivity was revised to a negative 4.1% from an initial estimate of a 4.6% drop. Still to come is the Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index and construction spending at 10 am. Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic will give remarks later.

Read: ‘Worst semiconductor downturn in a decade,’ warns Citi analyst

Ravil Maganov, the chairman of Russian oil giant Lukoil — a Ukraine-war critic, has reportedly died after falling from a hospital window.

A West coast heat wave has California officials declaring a grid emergency and fires shut down a major highway in the south.

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The chart

We’re circling back to an S&P 500 chart earlier this week from BTIG’s chief market strategist Jonathan Krinksy, whose had had his eye on the 3,900 line in the sand.

“Futures got down to 3,924 overnight (as of ~9 pm ET). Our sense is we
are close to a short -term bounce, but a failure to hold 3,900 given oversold conditions would indicate that the June lows were in jeopardy,” he said late Wednesday.

BTIG

Bonus chart from blogger The Market Ear, which notes the S&P 500 has been hovering below its 200-day moving average for a while, and the last time that happened.

The Market Ear

The tickers

These were the top-searched tickers on MarketWatch as of 6 am Eastern:

Ticker

Security name

BBBY

Bed Bath & Beyond

TSLA

You’re here

EMG

GameStop

CMA

AMC Entertainment

NVDA

NVIDIA

APE

AMC Entertainment preferred shares

AAPL

Apple

NIO

NIO

ATXG

Addentax

AMZN

Amazon.com

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