I came across a prediction from the end of 2005 that sounded amazingly prescient:
It last happened in April 1985, and before that, in 1965. Some readers might remember 1985 as leading to the height of the 'Savings and Loan' debacle (scandal) in the United States, when many banks (and real estate ventures) went bust supporting many bogus and/or inflated land deals, like Whitewater. Could it happen again? Are land values soon to be seen as inflated? Could many secondary banks (and mortgage companies) be vulnerable to the outstanding and inflated real estate paper they carry on their books?
Certainly, we've witnessed many of these insights come to pass. We've seen Centex
In that same prediction, the possibility of $100 oil and a market slump after the first quarter of 2006 were also forecast. Without question, oil has flirted with the C-note threshold, and many markets are taking a drubbing these days. No doubt Halliburton
Hardly. The predictions came from an astrological investing website that my colleague Selena Maranjian wrote about in December 2005. As incredulous as she was back then about the specificity of some of the calls made -- a market correction of 20%, not 15% or 21%? -- I am equally incredulous today, even though the predictions seem to be correct.
Many astute market observers were predicting housing's collapse well before Jupiter and Saturn "waxed square" and the moon moved through Aquarius. Three days after Selena's article came out, The Fool's Seth Jayson wrote that "I continue to believe that things won't be simple. We're going to see some soft landings and some pretty harsh rides." And this was months after he rode roughshod over the National Association of Realtors for being too much of a cheerleader about its industry.
It also didn't take an astrologer to see oil prices hovering around $100 per barrel, because plenty of observers noted the possibility, and none were looking at the stars for guidance. As for the 20% correction after the first quarter of 2006, the S&P 500 instead rose nearly 11% and added another 4% this year.
The point is, you can look to the stars, watch who wins the Super Bowl, measure hemlines, or look for candlesticks, head-and-shoulders, or cups with handles to divine what the markets will do. It doesn't mean it has any real predictive value. As the saying goes, even a broken clock is correct twice a day.
What does help is finding good companies with strong fundamentals selling at a discount to intrinsic value. That's a time-tested prescription for profits.
Fool contributor Rich Duprey does not have a financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. Washington Mutual is an Income Investor selection. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.