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Credit Suisse cuts 2020 S&P 500 outlook, but sees rebound in 2021

Credit Suisse analyst Jonathan Golub again cut his outlook for the U.S. stock market in 2020 as the coronavirus outbreak remains a near-term anchor on corporate growth prospects. But for 2021, stocks are going back up, he said.

The firm’s new price target is 2,700 for the S&P 500 in 2020, revised down from the 3,300 target delivered earlier this month. And prior to that, Golub anticipated the S&P 500 would end the year at 3,600.

Golub also initiated an S&P 500 price target of 3,100 for 2021, representing 39% upside from Monday’s closing prices and 15% upside from his year-end 2020 estimate.

While a downward revision, Credit Suisse’s 2020 call for the stock market remains one of a dwindling number left standing after a bevy of other Wall Street tossed their estimates to the side.

Over the past month, major firms including Oppenheimer, Canaccord Genuity and BMO Capital Markets withdrew their 2020 targets as ever-shifting developments in the coronavirus outbreak cloud the outlook.

A price screen display is seen above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shortly as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the city of New York rise, in New York, U.S., March 16, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Credit Suisse’s revised target represents about 21% upside from closing prices Monday. However, that year-end price of 2,700 would still put the blue-chip index 20% below its record closing high of 3,386.15 from Feb. 19.

The new price target comprises a 2020 earnings per share (EPS) estimate of $125, which was cut $165 and represents a 24% decline over 2019’s EPS. Corporate profits will likely drop even more steeply in the second and third quarters of this year alone, or by 37% and 43% over last year, respectively, Golub said.

“The most appropriate comparison to the current environment is the financial crisis measured on an EPS ex-Financials basis,” Golub wrote in a note. “Different from the GFC [global financial crisis], the current situation should be steeper in both its contraction and recovery.”

In looking for a bottom in the stock market amid the coronavirus outbreak, Golub said he is watching “new cases – not government action.”

“Reported cases and jobless claims will surely rise in coming weeks, putting further pressure on stocks. However, markets should quickly regain their footing once newly reported cases peak,” he said.

“While entirely necessary, government relief efforts alone will not be enough to establish a market floor,” Golub added.

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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