Each week a poll of investment advisors is taken and published by Investor’s Intelligence of New Rochelle, New York. Investment advisors are tracked as to whether they are bullish, bearish, or neutral on the stock market. The Bull/Bear Ratio shows the relationship between the bullish and bearish advisors.
The Bull/Bear Ratio is a market sentiment indicator. Dr. Martin Zweig sums up sentiment indicators in his book Winning On Wall Street by saying, “Beware of the crowd when the crowd is too one-sided.” Extreme optimism on the part of the public and even professionals almost always coincides with market tops. Extreme pessimism almost always coincides with market bottoms.
High readings of the Bull/Bear Ratio are bearish (there are too many bulls) and low readings are bullish (there are not enough bulls). In almost every case, extremely high or low readings have coincided with market tops or bottoms. Historically, readings above 60% have indicated extreme optimism (which is bearish for the market) and readings below 40% have indicated extreme pessimism (which is bullish for the market).
The following chart shows the Bull/Bear Ratio and the S&P 500.
“Buy” arrows were drawn on the S&P 500 when the advisors were extremely bearish and “sell” arrows were drawn when advisors were extremely bullish.
The Bull/Bear Ratio is calculated by dividing the number of bullish advisors by the number of bullish plus bearish advisors. The number of neutral advisors is ignored.