The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell into bear-market territory last week, joining the two other major stock indexes in falling 20 percent...

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The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell into bear-market territory last week, joining the two other major stock indexes in falling 20 percent from recent peaks.

But maybe that’s not a bad thing, according to S&P strategist Sam Stovall. Historically, crossing the 20 percent barrier means the market is about two-thirds of the way through the total decline from its high. The index has also performed strongly in the 12 months after it crossed the 20-percent bear threshold, rising in seven of the nine prior periods.

Seeing a bull

Stocks have been pummeled this year, but Wall Street analysts are getting more optimistic.

Nearly half of all analyst ratings for stocks in the Standard & Poor’s 500 — 49 percent — are “buys,” according to Citi Investment Research. That’s up from about 48 percent at the beginning of 2008 and 46 percent the year earlier. The last time more than 50 percent of ratings were “buy” was in the summer of 2006.

Unsurprisingly, the hot energy sector is among analysts’ favorites. Four stocks were universally liked, with “buy” ratings from all analysts covering them as of the end of June: Snap-On (SNA), Staples (SPLS), Lorillard (LO) and Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO).

Legend passes

Mutual-fund pioneer John Templeton died last week at the age of 95 from pneumonia. He pioneered investing overseas. A $10,000 investment made in his Templeton Growth Fund at its 1954 inception would have grown to $2 million, with dividends reinvested, by 1992, when he sold it to Franklin Group. That’s a 14.5 percent annualized return, compared with 11.9 percent for the S&P 500 over the same period.

The Associated Press