Why the market has more room to go
Despite a recent pullback in the past few days, the S&P 500 is just 19 away from breaking its all-time high.
The index is up 12.1 percent in the past year. That’s well above the 7.8 percent average annual return over the last decade, according to Morningstar Data. However, the past five years have seen an average of 15.7 percent annual returns.
However, many investors and traders are not convinced the S&P 500 has entirely run out of steam.
“There is a little more room to go,” said Erin Gibbs, equity chief investment officer of S&P Capital IQ Global Market Intelligence. “I am predicting another 5 percent over the next 12 months.”
Gibbs, who has more than $15 billion in assets under advisory, bases her outlook on projected slower growth in the S&P 500’s earnings. She expects 3 percent earnings growth ahead, lower than the market originally anticipated.
“That’s largely due to energy weighing on earnings,” said Gibbs. “Without energy, we’re looking at about 4.5 percent growth. This is slower growth than the past two years. Hence I’m expecting slower appreciation than the past two years. That’s where I get my 5 percent appreciation target.”
Five percent higher from current levels would be 2,206 for the S&P 500.
However Gibbs cautions that a rebound in Europe may chip into the U.S. index’s valuations. “Right now, we’re at 17.7 times forward earnings, which is over 10-year highs,” she said. “That premium … could go away if we see a big pickup within Europe and see assets go from U.S. large-cap equities and moving over into Europe.”
The technicals also see a 5 percent move higher in the S&P 500—if not more—based on the chart work of Todd Gordon, founder of Trading Analysis.com.
Gordon has been buying stocks since the S&P 500 pulled back toward 2,093, which coincided with the index’s December 2014 highs. “It was resistance and now serving as support—kind of the launching pad for what I see as higher prices,” he explained.
That level also serves another purpose, according to Gordon. From the October 2014 lows at 1,820, the S&P 500 rallied 273 points to its December peak. Gordon projected the length of that rally on to the Feb. 2 lows of 1,981 to reach a level of 2,254 or 7 percent higher than current prices.
“I think we’re going to exceed it,” predicted Gordon, a CNBC contributor. “I think in the next 12 to 24 months, the S&P  trades at 2,600.”