Corporate earnings are also referred to as “company earnings” and “corporate profits:” basically, the amount of money a company makes in certain period of time. The price/earnings multiple is still the most common tool used to value a company. The stock market values a company based on the amount of money—the earnings and profits—the company has after all expenses, including taxes, have been paid. In a stock market where stocks are traded at an average of 12 times earnings, a company making $1.00 a share per year would be valued at $12.00. All things being equal, the more money a public company makes, the higher its stock price.
As I often harp on about in these pages; economic growth occurs when the general standard of living in a country gets better. You can’t say an economy is improving when a significant portion of the population is suffering. You can’t claim there’s economic growth when the poverty rate is increasing. You can’t say the economy is improving when personal incomes and savings are declining.
Looking at this a little closer…
Food stamps usage in the U.S. economy has increased 68% since 2008, with 47.66 million people, or more than 15% of the entire U.S. population, now using food stamps. Going back to 2008, there were 28.22 million Americans using some form of food stamps then. (Source: United States Department of Agriculture, November 8, 2013.)
From 2000 to 2012, the poverty rate in the U.S. economy increased from 12.2% to 15.9%—a hike in the poverty rate of more than 30% in just 12 years. In 2000, there were 33.3 million Americans living in poverty; this number grew to 48.8 million people in 2012. (Source: United States Census Bureau, September 2013.)
In 2008, the median household income in the U.S. economy was $53,644. In 2012, it was almost five percent lower at $51,017. (Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis web site, last accessed December 2, 2013.)
And because incomes have fallen and prices have risen, people have no choice but to save less.
Back in November of 2008, Americans saved an average of 6.1% of their disposable income, meaning they saved $6.10 for every $100.00 they earned after taxes. In August of this year, personal savings as a percentage of … Read More
In the first 11 months of this year, key stock indices like the S&P 500 have gone up 26%. But as this happened, we saw optimism towards stocks increase and fundamentals became weak—two major negatives for stocks going into 2014.
According to the Investment Company Institute (ICI), U.S. long-term stock mutual funds have been witnessing massive inflows. Between the week ended October 23, 2013 and the week ended November 20, 2013, U.S. long-term stock mutual funds saw inflows of $23.95 billion. (Source: Investment Company Institute, November 27, 2013.)
It seems investors are confident key stock indices will continue to go higher. Risk is not a concern anymore. One of the ways this can be seen is via the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) Market Volatility Index—better known as the “VIX.” This index gauges the amount of fear in the key stock indices. You will see in the chart below how the VIX is breaking down to new lows.
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
The VIX is saying investors are far from worried about a decline in key stock indices. But the optimism doesn’t end here; I’ve read several analysts say key stock indices will soar higher. One of the most recent examples is Adam Parker from Morgan Stanley (NYSE/MS). He believes that the S&P 500 (currently at 1,800) will reach 2,014 by the end of next year. (Source: Wall Street Journal, December 2, 2013.)
On the fundamental side, the most critical factor for a rally in key stock indices—corporate revenue and earnings growth—just isn’t there. Consider this: as of November 29, almost all of the companies in the S&P 500 … Read More
Key stock indices are roaring higher each day. The S&P 500 is breaking through to new records; the Dow Jones Industrial Average sits above the 16,000 level, and the NASDAQ Composite Index trades at a level not seen since the Tech Boom. Sadly, as all of this happens, the one fundamental that has historically driven stock prices higher—corporate earnings—is missing from the equation.
In these pages, I have often harped on about how companies in key stock indices are buying back their shares at a record pace. I consider this “financial engineering,” because at the very core, what a stock buyback does is make corporate earnings per share look better.
This week, my research team took a look at the Dow Jones Industrial Average companies and how many were buying back their shares. Their findings reveal 28 out of the 30 companies on the index bought back shares over the past 12 months.
From the third quarter of 2012 to the third quarter of 2013, Dow Jones Industrial Average companies collectively bought an outstanding 2.33 billion of their own shares. Effectively, they removed over two billion shares from the market!
What did these stock buybacks do to the companies’ corporate earnings?
Because of the stock buybacks, 70% of all the companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average were able to show better per-share corporate earnings. For example, for the third quarter of this year, AT&T Inc. (NYSE/T) reported a net income of $0.72 per share, an improvement of 14.3% from the same quarter in 2012. But if AT&T didn’t reduce its share count during that period via its … Read More
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