Last week, David Tepper, a billionaire hedge fund titan and president of Appaloosa Management remarked on CNBC …
Two things are happening. It’s that easy sometimes. Either the economy is going to get better by itself, in the next 3 months and what assets are going to do well? You can guess what assets will do well – stocks are going to do well, bonds won’t do so well, gold won’t do as well. OR The economy is not going to pick up in the next three months and the Fed is going to come in with QE. Right? Then what’s going to do well? Everything! In the near term – Everything!
Earnings vs. Share Prices
One might not be able to argue with Tepper’s past performance, but one sure can argue with his current logic. Stocks do not necessarily go up because earnings go up. Stocks rise or fall primarily based on sentiment.
Right now, sentiment is so bullish and earnings estimates so lofty there is room for hefty earnings expansion that falls short or estimates. Buying stocks that miss wildly optimistic earnings estimates is not likely to work out well.
Furthermore, even if earnings do come in on target, there is no historic guarantee that stock prices follow. For example, on March 31, 1973 the S& P was at 111.52 with trailing earnings of $6.80. Seven years later, on March 31, 1980 the S&P was at 102.09 with trailing earnings of $15.27.
Thus, over a span of seven years, earning rose 125% while stock prices fell 8.5%!
What happened? The PE ratio on the S&P fell from 16.40 to 6.68, that’s what.
Moreover, those were real earnings then. Now, corporations hide garbage in SIVs with the blessing of the Fed and analysts cite pro-forma earnings that throw out "one-time" charges that occur with increasing regularity.
Thus, anyone who says stock prices will go up because earnings go up, does not understand history. This does not make Tepper wrong, but it does make his argument fallacious.
What About Quantitative Easing?
Tepper also argues that everything will be good if the Fed falls back on quantitative easing. Really?
Regular visitors to dshort.com know I follow Howard Silverblatt’s earnings spreadsheet on the Standard & Poor’s website. Free registration is required to access this data. I’ve received several requests for more specific details on where to find the spreadsheet. It is fairly well hidden. Here are two links to help frustrated seekers: step one and step two.
I follow the "As-Reported" earnings and top-down estimates for future earnings (see column D in the spreadsheet). The chart below shows the higher estimates of future earnings from the most recent spreadsheet, dated August 24th, and three earlier spreadsheets (February 17th, April 28th, and July 15th).
The latest earnings estimate for 2Q 2010 is 67.20. Friday’s close gives us a P/E ratio of 15.84, which is close to the average trailing 12-month P/E of 15.48. Beyond the 2Q, the chart illustrates increasing optimism about next year’s earnings. The August 24th estimate of $80.20 for 4Q 2011 at today’s P/E would put the S&P 500 at 1,270 at the end of 2011. That’s a gain of 19.3% from the latest close.
But will as-reported earnings really live up to these estimates? Last month Howard Silverblatt pinpointed the problem for earnings in a Bloomberg article No Sales Means No Jobs Means No Recovery. His concluding remarks are worth repeating here:
I look to sales as a future indicator. On this basis, earnings are running ahead of Q1 2010, but sales are flat, and that’s the problem. It’s great that companies have improving earnings, but those improvements are due to high margins, which were the product of cost cuts — specifically job reductions, the very thing that we need to improve now. Until companies and consumers start to spend more, the job front will not get better, but they won’t spend more until they believe things are getting better. The stimulus programs were supposed to jump start the economy and break the downward cycle by convincing both groups that better times were here. But so far we’re not seeing the sales or the jobs; but earnings are good, at least for now.
Companies in the S&P 500 sell across the world. But consumption in the US, which remains critical for sustained earnings growth, has been undergoing a sustained contraction —, a fact that…
This excellent piece (below) was on Bloomberg yesterday and cites another bearish note from Gluskin Sheff’s David Rosenberg. It notes that the analyst community now expects 35% earnings growth for 2010. They go on to show that this has only happened 6 times in 75 years and has been accompanied by 10% GDP growth each time. In essence, the implication is that this recovery is entirely different and is unlikely to rhyme with these other robust earnings recoveries. This is accurate, but terribly misleading in terms of timing. Have a look here and continue reading below:
What Rosenberg and Bloomberg fail to be more descriptive about is the timing of these high estimates. As we have long noted with our expectation ratio and earnings analysis (which has been spot on) the analysts have remained far too bearish for the last year. Where the above analysis goes wrong is in bunching 2010 estimates together as a whole as opposed to breaking them down by quarter.
A closer look at these estimates is vitally important in positioning your portfolio for the coming few quarters. In our 2010 investment outlook we said we were bearish about H2 2010 partly due to the potential for overly optimistic earnings analysis. If you look at current estimates analysts are calling for just 2.7% sequential growth in 2009 Q4 earnings. For 2010 Q1 they are calling for just 1.9% sequential growth. In a nutshell, they expect earnings to be in-line with the last few quarters (which I believe is utterly naive and lacking in any real analysis worthy of paid employment). These estimates are almost certainly low. Where things get interesting is in the later quarters of 2010.
In Q2 analysts are calling for a big jump in growth to 11.3% sequentially and 33% year over year. The same goes for Q3 where they are currently calling for 7% sequential growth and 25% year over year growth. These are big numbers. $19.72 & $20.62 in operating earnings per quarter is essentially what the S&P was doing back in 2006 & 2007 when the economy was at record low unemployment and the banks were cranking their high leveraged ponzi scheme on all cylinders. Can we realistically return to such levels so…
In addition to the recent note by Credit Suisse, here, courtesy of a note by UBS' Felix Huefner, is what you need to know about the upcoming Italian referendum - an event that has been dubbed by some as the most important risk event for Europe in the remainder of the year - scheduled for December 4.
Referendum is about political uncertainty and reform progress
An important forthcoming event is the Italian referendum on constitutional reform, which is scheduled for 4 December. Ba...
The surprise vote in favor of the U.K. leaving the European Union on June 23 unleashed shockwaves across the global economy, wiping trillions off the value of global assets. The referendum reshaped the British political landscape, and genera...
By Knowledge Wharton. Originally published at ValueWalk.
While most of people have already decided whom to vote for in the presidential election, there are still quite a few undecideds. A new app, called ‘Voter,’ promises to help bring more clarity about candidates based on their stances on issues and one’s own beliefs. The app developers say it also automates what could otherwise be a laborious process of determining candidates’ credentials and positions, and reduces human bias in the selection process.
Hunter Scarborough, the creator of the Voter app, says plans call for extending the app beyond the November presidential elections to candidates in races for Senate, House of Representatives and governors’ seats. Next, he plans to take it further to local elections such as for city councils, and may also go international. He discusses th...
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Epizyme was founded in 2007, and trying to create drugs to treat patient's cancer by focusing on genetically-linked differences between normal and cancer cells. Cancer areas of focus include leukemia, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and breast cancer. One of the Epizme cofounders, H. Robert Horvitz, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2002 for "discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death."
Before discussing the drug targets of Epizyme, understanding epigenetics is crucial to comprehend the company's goals.
Genetic components are the DNA sequences that are 'inherited.' Some of these genes are stronger than others in their expression (e.g., eye color). Yet, some genes turn on or off due to external factors (environmental), and it is und...
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