The last time I mentioned the CBOE Equity Put to Call Ratio, one month ago today, it was at such elevated levels that I titled the post Put to Call Everest and limited my commentary to a brief question, “What number comes after infinity?” The extreme put to call data even inspired me to make my first major bottom call since trying to catch the bottom in the NASDAQ in 2002 (I was also a little early then, but close enough.)
Fast forward one month and the put to call data continue to show a preponderance of non-believers, with put buying dominating the options activity. Given the headlines of the past few days, this widespread pessimism is easy to understand. The more important question is how long it will endure.
Critical market bottoms are almost always marked by a spike in put to call ratios. For aggressive investors, the current levels probably offer an attractive risk-reward profile. More conservative investors may wish to wait for a confirmation signal, such as the 10 day exponential moving average of the CBOE Equity Put to Call Ratio dropping below 0.80 (the blue horizontal line in the chart below.) More market shocks certainly lie ahead, but history suggests that the current environment has a high probability of producing above average returns – perhaps even considerably higher than that – over the next month or two.