Forecasting Stock Market Returns: The Sum of the Parts is More than the Whole
NBER Working Paper No. 14571
We propose forecasting separately the three components of stock market returns: dividend yield, earnings growth, and price-earnings ratio growth. We obtain out-of-sample R-square coefficients (relative to the historical mean) of nearly 1.6% with monthly data and 16.7% with yearly data using the most common predictors suggested in the literature. This compares with typically negative R-squares obtained in a similar experiment by Goyal and Welch (2008). An investor who timed the market with our approach would have had a certainty equivalent gain of as much as 2.3% per year and a Sharpe ratio 77% higher relative to the historical mean. We conclude that there is substantial predictability in equity returns and that it would have been possible to time the market in real time.