Guest Post: Change In Corporate Profits Leads To Market Movements

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Lance Roberts of StreetTalk Advisors

Change In Corporate Profits Leads To Market Movements

Part 1


Change In Corporate Profits Leads To Market Movements

analysts have been stumbling all over themselves to raise estimates for
earnings growth over the coming quarters based on recent earnings
announcements by various companies.   However, one of the things that
should be paid attention to, besides rising input prices and weakening
economic variables, is the Year Over Year Change (YOY %) in corporate
profit margins.

The BEA released the latest corporate profit figures today stating: 
"Corporate profits in the first quarter expanded to $1.450 trillion
annualized-up from $1.369 trillion in the fourth quarter. Profits in
the first quarter were up an annualized 25.6 percent, following a 12.6
percent drop the quarter before. Profits are after tax but without
inventory valuation and capital consumption adjustments. Corporate
profits are up 5.8 percent on a year-on-year basis, compared to up 11.4
percent in the fourth quarter."

The key to note here is the decline of the YOY rate of growth in
profits.   It has markedly declined since the peak in 2010 which
historically is a good signal that we are near a market top as stocks
are currently pricing in earnings and economic perfection.  Of course,
as we have warned in the past, it only takes a small stumble for stocks
to return to fair market valuation quickly.  

Currently, the market is ignoring the decline in YOY corporate
profitability due to the massive amounts of artificial stimulus and most
of the mainstream media is still trying to put out positive spins on
slowing economic growth.  Just as a reminder in December of 2007, when
the media was still touting that  "subprime was contained" and we would
have a "soft landing in the economy", we stated that "...we are currently in or about to be in a recession."   Then in March of 2008, as the media was proclaiming that we would have a "goldilocks economy" - we stated that "...we are about to be in the worst recession since the Great Depression." 
The evidence was much clearer then and there wasn't the invisible hand
of the government supporting virtually every sector of the economy.   

Therefore, while it is currently unclear whether "QE 3 to Infinity"
will continue to support a flailing economic recovery or whether there
is true organic recovery embedded in the bowels of the economy; it is
clear is that the decline in corporate profits is something that should
be paid attention to.    The markets always overshoot on the upside and
the downside and stocks are currently priced for economic perfection
that simply does not seem to be in the cards.

Remember - it is always easier to make up a lost investment opportunity than lost capital.

Part 2


Slide In Corporate Profits - Part II

Yesterday we posted a piece on the recent slide in the Year-Over-Year change in corporate profits as compared to the S&P 500.  
During a discussion with my friend Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge, Tyler
gave me the brilliant suggestion to also compare the change in corporate
profits to both the change in economic growth as well as jobless

Tyler's insight was right on track as show in the chart.   When
corporate profits are overlaid against an inverted scale of jobless
claims we find a very high correlation.   What might be the explanation
of this?   As corporations get lean during a recessionary period
profitability rises due to layoffs and cost cutting.   Remember - the
two biggest expenses to companies are healthcare benefits and labor
costs.   When they layoff employees those costs drop straight to the net
income line.   However, since the peak in corporate profits - companies
have been slowing hiring again, unfortunately not to great degree, but
enough to begin impacting profitability.  

Secondly, when looking at profits compared to GDP we find, again,
another very high correlation.  With the economy weakening and consumer
spending declining due to lack of wage growth, and now a decline in
government support as well, it is not surprising to see a decline in
corporate profit growth.   With the consumer making up 70% of the
current economic growth rate through consumption any impact on the
consumer is going to quickly filter through to corporate profitability,
and as we showed yesterday, stock market prices.

Finally, the evidence is mounting that corporate profits are under
attack due to rising input costs through high commodity prices,
weakening support from the consumer and an overall weakening state of
manufacturing and employment completing the feedback loop into the
domestic economy.    While economists are still predicting just a
slowdown in the economy before a reacceleration - my thoughts, as stated
before, is that we will either see close to zero economic growth by the
end of the summer or QE 3.

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EnglishMajor's picture

So what do the earnings reports look like when we throw Japan and the ongoing disruptions to supply chains and manufacturing into the mix?

topcallingtroll's picture

Profit margins are now dependent on worldwide growth.  We need big growth numbers out of the world ex japan ex europe to maintain them.

downwiththebanks's picture

Bullshit:  profit numbers depend on a combination of two things.  

1.  How much surplus value you can squeeze out of the slaves.  

2.  How much you can 'win' at the casino.

Growth has little to do with it at this point since 'profits' aren't based upon material investment or real production.  Rather, they come from leveraged, parasitical speculation in the world's gambling dens.

IdioTsincracY's picture


Labor costs going up in China ..... get Vietnam ready .... after that, Congo here we come .....

And keep the casino going ....don't touch those rates .....

keep that greenspan 2001 policy going .... look at all the good it has done!

Manthong's picture

Stop distracting everyone from important stuff like DSK, killing Bin Laden, Netflix and Lady GaGa.

janchup's picture

>we will either see close to zero economic growth by the end of the summer or QE 3.

Or QE3 with close to zero economic growth.

Maybe growth is passe these days anyway; Mother Earth cant handle it.

disabledvet's picture

would you agree this is true globally as well?  "Sony reports"  how massive a loss?  5 billion?  "Advantage those with...

Of course there have been rumors that corporate board meetings have now devolved into deep philosophical discourses of "the Arab Spring" and "the velvetty smoothness of the tulip petal."

Smiddywesson's picture

Perpetual growth was an illusion created by economist whores who prostituted their minds for professorships and grants.  The same goes for government and business leaders.  They bought into the lie that growth can be perpetual because it was good for them.  The big contraction has already begun.  We get our growth after the crunch, not before.

downwiththebanks's picture

Yep:  it's the con of Propaganda factories also known as Business Schools.

The myth that a finite world can produce infinite growth is the grand lie of Capitalism.

IdioTsincracY's picture

Wrong ... it's not a matter of finite vs. infinite ...

It's all about pushing everybody into debt ....

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties
than standing armies"

Thomas Jefferson

EnglishMajor's picture

It will all be over soon.

XRAYD's picture



Corprate profits can't keep breaking records for ever, even with accounting gimmicks?


I'm shocked, shocked!


XRAYD's picture

Growth, like a drug for an addict, is peddled to the masses as "jobs" - even if the job is going to create a health hazard or might kill. 


What Joe six pack wants is, two things ...


1) His Six pack and 2) his "free" time occupation - TV/NFL/NASCAR/etc.


He can't get either without a job.


And without Joe's cheap labor and purchasing, there can be NO endless profits. Growth is growing pay check which is absorbed by rising beer prices and cable rates or ticket prices.


After a few beers and TeeVee, Joe makes more Little Joes. That is the formula for growth.


Joe thinks he can't make little Joes because beer and Teevee (and gas for his car/truck) costs too much. So to get Joe to vote for economic growth, Washington promises him either a tax cut, or free beer! And bitches about high gas prices.


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