Market bull Rich Bernstein curbs enthusiasm for stocks

Institutional Investor hall of famer Richard Bernstein is adopting a more nuanced bull stance on stocks.

Bernstein isn’t as optimistic as he was last year — citing the deceleration of corporate America’s profits.

“The most important thing in 2019 is U.S. profits growth is going to slow,” the Richard Bernstein Advisors CEO said Monday on CNBC’s “Trading Nation.” “By our estimation, it’s going to slow from about 25 percent to about 5 to 8 percent.”

It appears the trend is already impacting stocks. Wall Street is coping this week with disappointing quarterly earnings reports from Nvidia and Caterpillar. Bernstein warns they’re not isolated cases.

“One should temper their enthusiasm. We’re still overweight stocks. But I think you have to really to temper that enthusiasm with that kind of deceleration in corporate profits,” he said. “The number one factor in an equity portfolio in 2019 has to be quality and stability of earnings.”

Bernstein, a CNBC contributor, believes that ingredient should be sufficient to protect long-term portfolios.

“It’s really across the sector spectrum. There’s obviously some tech, there’s a lot of health care [and] consumer staples. You can find consumer cyclicals,” he said. “You can find all kinds of different companies that could fit that high quality.”