EARNINGS - Extremely Misleading Graphs and Headlines
EXAMPLE: This Is Quickly Turning Into The Best Earnings Season In 3 Years 04/22/12 BI
The Most Surprising Chart Of Q1 Earnings Season So Far 04/21/12 Zero Hedge
ESTIMATES: 1)REDUCED TO BEAT & 2) HOCKEYSTICKING
There is one simple reason why the market is less the jubilant about recent earnings "beats" - they all come on trails of aggressive recent trimmings to near forecasts, all at the expense of hockeysticking latter part of the year expectations.
Consensus revenue growth expectations (excluding energy and financials) are 6.5% in 2012 and 5.8% in 2013. This is lower than the 8.2% growth achieved in 2011. We think it is sensible that the revenue growth expectations are lower for 2012 and 2013 versus 2011 but don’t think estimates embed risks like the 2013 fiscal cliff or a recession in Europe. At the sector level, 2012 earnings growth expectations are highest in financials, technology, and industrials. The lowest growth estimates are in utilities, telecom, and health care.
MARGIN EXPECTATIONS - Not Realistic, Don't Pass the Common Sense Test.
One place where it is more obvious than anywhere: margin expectations, which somehow the consensus see soaring in 2013 after what has now become a very tepid 2012 (despite irrational exuberance toward the mid/late part of 2011).
With much more downside risks associated with the longer-term corporate outlook (fiscal cliff, Europe, China slow down), the market has once again reverted to its "show me" phase, where Q1 results are good, but simply not good enough to where mere hockeysticks in expectations will offset the overhanging fears of a global slowdown.
4 COMPANIES CARRING MARKET: AAPL, GOOG, IBM & ORCL
3 companies, GOOG, IBM and ORCL, and the Financial sector in general (which is neck deep in so much "one-time" DVA and otherwise accounting-based trickery we wouldn't know where to even begin) account for more than 60% of the EPS upside!
ESTIMATES STEADILY DOWN - Until Recently
The 2012 EPS estimate, currently at $106.16, reached a near-term bottom of $105.34 in February 2012, while the 2013 estimate troughed at $118.47 in early March versus the current reading of $119.24.