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…
Equity markets around the globe plunged on Friday in response the Brexit vote outcome. Actually, prior to the Friday selloff, the week was looking rather positive for our eight-member watch list. Ironically, on a week-over-week basis, the UK's FTSE was the best performer, despite its -3.15% Friday loss. For the second consecutive week, Japan's Nikkei has the painful distinction of being the biggest loser, down 4.15%, which, sadly, is an improvement over its 6.03% rout the previous week.
A Closer Look at the Last Four Weeks
The tables below provide a concise overview of performance comparisons over the past four weeks for these eight major indexes. We've also included the average for each week so that we can evaluate t...
Great Britain’s decision to extricate itself from the EU has consequences that are at once far-reaching and unknown. By Friday morning, no market was immune. Great Britain’s currency, the pound, had fallen to its lowest levels since 1985, and the FTSE (an index of the London stock exchange) and DAX (a German stock index) plummeted. In the U.S., markets opened in the red, gold (a co...
The most important thing long-term investors need to see today is the market’s response to crisis, courtesy of Dimensional Funds.
The chart above should put the Brexit in perspective. Nobody knows yet what the implications will be, but I’m pretty confident that this is no more significant than any of the six events above. Now of course there are never any guarantees, that’s what risk means. And if you need the money in the next five years, you should not...
By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.
There has been a LOT of discussion about the Brexit vote and what the implications are (although none of us can predict the future), but one interesting point many seemed to miss is the impact on the world’s largest economy after the USA and EU – China. How does a Brexit impact the world’s largest country by population? No one knows for sure but it will likely have a big impact on China. Quartz is saying its bad while Bloomberg News says its good.
UK chancellor George Osborne, meanwhile, promised a “golden decade...
I have mixed feelings about Brexit today. Clearly the European institution need reforming. The addition of so many countries in the last 20 years has created a top heavy administration. The Euro adds more complexities to the equation as the ECB policies cannot fit every country's problem. On the other hand, a unified Europe has advantages as well – some countries have benefited from the integration.
For Britain, it's hard to say what the final price will be. My guess is that Scotland might now vote for independence as they supported staying in Europe overwhelmingly. Northern Ireland might be tempted to leave as well so possibly RIP UK in the long run. I was talking to some French people and they were saying that now there might be no incentive for France to stop immigrants from crossing over to the UK like they do now and simply allow for travel there and let the UK deal with them. The end game is not clear to anyone at the moment....
One week ago, when bitcoin first crossed above $700 on the seemingly insatiable Chinese buying which we forecast last September (when bitcoin was trading at $230) would take place as a result of China's capital controls (to much pushback by the "mainstream" financial media), we tried to predict what may happen next. We said that "it could go much higher. That said, anyone who bought last September when the digital currency was trading at $230 may be advised to take some profits, and at least make...
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After a three-year bull run that more than quadrupled its value by its peak last July, IBD’s Medical-Biomed/Biotech Industry Group plunged 50% by early February, hurt by backlashes against high drug prices and mergers that seek to lower corporate taxes.
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