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 2006-2007 I called for a recession. We got a big one. I called for another one in 2011, as did the ECRI. That recession never happened.
50% is not a very good recession predicting track record except in comparison to consensus economic opinions that have never once in history predicted a recession. Consensus opinion is batting a perfect 0.00%
Investigating the Record
By the way, the ECRI was late in calling the recession of 2007. They still deny it. And questions regarding the 2001 recession and ECRI have still not been answered.
I have talked about all of this before, and it's worth a recap, if for no other reason than to note the difficulty of calling recessions in real time.
One week ago, when reporting on the latest bizarre plan presented by the Pentagon, namely providing Syrian rebels (but only the moderate ones, not the jihadists like al Nusra, or, well, ISIS) with B-1B Bomber air support in their attacks on ISIS, when we wrote that this "means in the coming weeks and months look forward to a surge in false flag "attacks" blamed on the Assad regime, aiming to give Obama validation to expand the "War against ISIS" to include Syria's regime as well."
We didn't have long to wait: in an entirely unsourced Time article written today by Aryn Baker, the Middle East Bureau ...
The S&P lost a little, the Nasdaq gained a little, but there was no change in the larger picture. The S&P registered a distribution day, of sorts: volume climbed, but as the index finished with a doji it doesn't really qualify as a heavy sell off day. The selling volume was enough to generate a 'sell' trigger in On-Balance-Volume too, but the whipsaw risk is high.
The Nasdaq did the opposite. It added nearly 0,5% on higher volume accumulation. It's brushing the 10% envelope relative to the 200-day MA, which is not a particularly strong sell signal, but a warning sign for a possible slow down in the advance.
Chris Kimble's chart for KOL shows a recently beaten down ETF struggling to pull itself up from the ashes. As the chart shows, KOL has recently drifted down to levels not seen since the financial crisis of 2008-9.
Bouncing or recovering with energy in general, coal prices appear to have stabilized in the short-term. Reflecting coal prices, KOL has traded between $13.45 and $19.75 during the past year. Bouncing from lows, KOL traded around 2% higher yesterday from $14.26 to $14.48 on high volume. It traded another 3.6% higher in after hours to $15, possibly related to ...
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Stocks are hitting new highs across the board, even though earnings reports have been somewhat disappointing. Actually, to be more precise, Q4 results have been pretty good, but it is forward guidance that has been cautious and/or cloudy as sales into overseas markets are expected to suffer due to strength in the US dollar. Healthcare and Telecom have put in the best results overall, while of course Energy has been the weakling. Still, overall year-over-year earnings growth for the S&P 500 during 2015 is expected to be about +8%.
In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer a technical analysis of the S&P 500 cha...
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PSW Members - well, what a year for biotechs! The Biotech Index (IBB) is up a whopping 40%, beating the S&P hands down! The healthcare sector has had a number of high flying IPOs, and beat the Tech Sector in total nubmer of IPOs in the past 12 months. What could go wrong?
Phil has given his Secret Santa Inflation Hedges for 2015, and since I have been trying to keep my head above water between work, PSW, and baseball with my boys...it is time that something is put together for PSW on biotechs in 2015.
Cancer and fibrosis remain two of the hottest areas for VC backed biotechs to invest their monies. A number of companies have gone IPO which have drugs/technologies that fight cancer, includin...
Stocks got off to a rocky start on the first trading day in December, with the S&P 500 Index slipping just below 2050 on Monday. Based on one large bullish SPX options trade executed on Wednesday, however, such price action is not likely to break the trend of strong gains observed in the benchmark index since mid-October. It looks like one options market participant purchased 25,000 of the 31Dec’14 2105/2115 call spreads at a net premium of $2.70 each. The trade cost $6.75mm to put on, and represents the maximum potential loss on the position should the 2105 calls expire worthless at the end of December. The call spread could reap profits of as much as $7.30 per spread, or $18.25mm, in the event that the SPX ends the year above 2115. The index would need to rally 2.0% over the current level...
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
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