Wednesday, April 29, 2015

S&P 500 Forward Earnings Driving Economic Slowdown (excerpt)

There are lots of correlations between S&P 500 forward earnings and several key economic indicators. The former dropped sharply late last year and early this year as Energy industry analysts slashed their earnings estimates for this year and next year.

While the plunge in oil prices accounts for much of the weakness in forward earnings since last fall, the soaring dollar has also weighed on earnings. Corporate profits tend to be the key driver of employment and capital spending. Profitable companies tend to expand their payrolls and capacity. Unprofitable companies don’t do so.

This explains why there is such a good correlation between the y/y growth rates of forward earnings and aggregate weekly hours. Forward earnings is also highly correlated with total factory orders as well as nondefense capital goods orders excluding aircraft. The weakness in forward earnings confirms that the slowdown in US economic growth so far this year wasn’t attributable just to the icy winter. Spring’s economic indicators remain disappointing so far.

The profits picture should brighten a bit if the dollar has peaked and oil prices have bottomed. The US economic outlook should also brighten in this scenario. However, don’t expect a boom.

Today's Morning Briefing: Forward Thinking. (1) Six degrees of separation. (2) LinkedIn and the kindness of strangers. (3) Correlations and divergences. (4) Industrial commodity prices aren’t confirming oil rally. (5) The oil price might have bottomed and peaked. (6) The dollar might have peaked. (7) Don’t buy into A$, C$, and gold rallies. (8) Expected inflation rebounding. (9) Forward earnings flagging, and so is economy. (10) Profitable companies expand. Unprofitable ones don’t. (11) Neither boom nor bust. (12) Focus on now underweight-rated S&P 500 housing-related industries. (More for subscribers.)

No comments: