The table below lists the current & historical CAPE ratios by Sector, calculated using the 500 largest public U.S. companies. If the Shiller PE ratio of a sector is lower than its historical average, this might indicate that the sector is currently undervalued and vice versa. The overall CAPE of the U.S. stock market as a whole is currently 39.98 (Jan 1st, 2022).
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CAPE Ratio by Sector (Large Cap U.S. Companies)
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Shiller PE and sector performance
Can the CAPE ratio be used to indicate what will be the long term performance of a specific sector? In a white paper published by Barclay’s research department and Professor Shiller (to promote the new ETN/Exchange Traded Note created by the bank), the group developed a sector rotation strategy that outperformed annual returns of S&P 500 total return index with nearly 4%. The returns are indeed impressive but it is always easy to beat the market using historical data. Time will tell if the CAPE ratio remains a useful indicator.
In February 2015, Ossiam launched an exchange traded fund (The Ossiam Shiller Barclays Cape Europe Sector Value) that revolves around European equities following the same strategy described in the paper. The ETF is traded on the London Stock Exchange.
Comparing the valuations of different sectors using CAPE
The CAPE ratios varies substantially between the sectors. In December 2015, consumer discretionary segment’s PE 10 ratio was three times higher than the ratio of energy companies. Does this mean that consumer discretionary companies are seriously overvalued?
Comparing the valuations of different industries is tricky. Investors have different expectation for the timeframe of future earnings of different companies. For some new and hot high-tech firm, most of the company’s value is based on hopes of fast growth and the current earnings of the company do not really matter. But for mature firms, the retained earnings in short timeframe are much more important. The same holds true for the whole sectors: expectations of when the money is coming in are not the same.
However, someone might raise the point that the average 10-year price-earnings of IT companies has been higher than the P/E of energy firms and utilities all the time for the past 30 years. This raises the question if the hopes of the investors have been constantly too high for some industries.
Some sectors traditionally viewed as cyclical, like consumer discretionary and IT, have higher average CAPE than defensive like utilities and consumer staples. But the average Shiller price-earnings ratios of consumer staples (defensive), health care (defensive), materials (cyclical) and industrials (cyclical) are very close to each other.