British stocks are due a bounce

The FTSE 100 has gone virtually nowhere since 2000. But it could be heading for happier years ahead.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that equities will always go up in the long run,” says Philip Coggan in the Financial Times. Yet the FTSE 100 has gone virtually nowhere since 2000. Even when you count reinvested dividends, the annualised total return of 3.3% in the 20 years to the end of last year is underwhelming. 

True, the dotcom bubble was at its height around the turn of the millennium. But US indices, which also experienced that boom, are up roughly threefold since then. The UK index lacks the kind of exciting tech companies that have set the world on fire over the last two decades.  

Still, America’s tech-heavy-index can’t outperform forever, says Russ Mould of AJ Bell. If we are heading for higher inflation, then “history suggests that you want to own real assets, or shares in them – commodities, miners, oils and property… the UK marketis ideal”. 

British shares are also far cheaper than their US counterparts. Trading on a cyclically adjusted price/earnings (Cape) ratio of 15.2 as of the start of the current quarter, the UK market is on a discount not only to most developed markets, but also to emerging ones such as Thailand and Brazil. The US is more than twice as pricey on the Cape measure. After two decades of disappointment, the FTSE could be heading for happier years ahead.

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