I dreaded writing an annual-predictions column this year -- in fact, I've dreaded it every time I've been asked to put it together during my five years as a Real Money columnist. But what's done is done, so let's look at how my forecasts have worked out so far.
I'm willing to my lumps on how my predictions turned out, and perhaps trumpet a success or two along the way. Here are some calls of mine that have more or less come true:
Gold and other precious metals are doing well year to date, as I predicted they would.
Gold has risen some 18% to around $1,250 an ounce, while silver is up roughly 15% to about $16 per ounce. Both have a ways to go before they hit my year-end targets of $1,375 for gold and $18 for silver, but the trend is my friend at this point.
The markets have been volatile, as I expected.
I called for the S&P 500 to rise or fall by 1% or more two days per week on average in 2016, and that's fairly close to what's happened so far. We've had 26 such days as of yesterday's close out of a total of 53 sessions so far this year. The pace of +/- 1% S&P 500 days has slowed in the past couple of weeks, but I'm not complaining.
My prediction that high-flying momentum names like Amazon (AMZN), Facebook (FB), Netflix (NFLX) and Salesforce.com (CRM) would cool down has more or less come true.
FB is the only one of the four that's in positive territory, up some 6.5% year to date. And if you average all four together, they've fallen about 8% so far in 2016. That's not exactly the "repricing" that I envisioned, but it's a start.
Finally, perhaps my boldest call (or maybe just the most ridiculous one) was for baseball's lowly Philadelphia Phillies to surprise everyone by winning a National League wild-card spot this year. Although success in spring training might not have much predictive value for the regular season, the Phils are 13-5 so far in the preseason. I'm just sayin'!
The Federal Reserve
Unfortunately, some of my other 2016 predictions look like they won't pan out.
For example, my call that the Fed would raise U.S. interest rates four times in 2016 seems deader than a doornail following last week's monetary-policy meeting. In fact, we might see just two 25-basis-point rate hikes this year as the Fed pushes its timetable for a more-normal rate environment further into the future.
The Restaurant Sector
I forecast that restaurant stocks would have a difficult year, but they're soundly beating the S&P 500 so far in 2016.
The "Big Five" chains -- McDonald's (MCD), Yum! Brands (YUM), Chipotle (CMG), Olive Garden parent Darden (DRI), and Domino's (DPZ) are up about 7% on average this year vs. 1% for the S&P 500. Valuations still seem out of whack to me, but lower gas prices are apparently giving the sector a tailwind.
It looks like I was wrong in forecasting that Donald Trump would lose the Republican presidential nomination to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
I predicted that The Donald would "bow out gracefully" (!), but it now appears more and more likely that Trump will get the GOP nod.
With Rubio gone from the race, my theory that the Florida senator would tap Ohio Gov. John Kasich as his running mate and beat a Democratic ticket of Hillary Clinton and former Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh is also moot.
However, I'm sticking to my side bet with fellow Real Money columnist Doug Kass that the former first lady won't wind up back in the White House come Inauguration Day.