Analyst expectations for top line growth in the back half of 2013 continue to fade, and worries over a looming “Revenue recession” grow commensurately. As ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes, the first quarter of 2013 posted an average negative 0.6% revenue comparison for the 30 companies of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and Q2 (with a few companies left to report) looks to be +0.3%. But back out the financials, and he points out that the number goes negative to the tune of (0.3%). Analysts are still chopping away at their back half expectations, now down to 1.9% for Q3 and 2.1% for Q4 2013. Those are down from 4-5% expected comps back in March, so the trend is still clearly not our friend. As we have pointed out previously, equity markets have been powered by multiple expansion year-to-date, but, as Colas asks (rhetorically) do you really want to pay up at this point in the business cycle for still declining expectations?
Plunging Chinese manufacturing and an 11 month low PMI got you down? Don't worry: there's a Europe for that, which overnight reported that manufacturing and service PMI in Germany and, don't laugh, France soared far above expectations (German Mfg and Services PMIs of 50.3 and 52.5, up from 48.6 and 50.4, and above expectations of 49.2 and 50.8; French Mfg and Services PMIs of 48.3 and 49.8, up from 47.2 and 48.4 and an 11 and 17 month high, respectively, blowing away expectations of 47.6 and 48.8). The result was a composite Eurozone Manufacturing PMI of 50.1, above 50 for the first time since February of 2012, up from 48.8 and at a 24 month high - reporting the largest monthly increase in output sunce June 2011, as well as a composite Services PMI of 49.6, up from 48.3, and an 18 month high. In other words, European Composite PMI is expanding (above 50) for the first time since January 2012.
Don't look now but futures are up as usual, driven higher by both good and bad news. The biggest event of the weekend, if largely priced in, was the victory by Abe's coalition in the upper-house leading to the following seat breakdown. Of course, judging by the Yen and market reaction, which barely managed to eek out a gain: its first in four trading days, the event was largely of the "sell the news" type despite such bold proclamations: "Abe’s victory in the upper house is bullish for Japanese equities and the Japanese economy as a whole, as the removal of political headwinds bolsters the government’s ability to press forward with all ‘three arrows’ of its growth strategy," John Vail, Tokyo-based chief global strategist at Nikko Asset Management Co., which manages $162 billion, wrote in an e-mail. Elsewhere in Europe, Portugal bond yields have plunged by roughly 60 bps on news that the Portuguese President Silva has backed the centre-right coalition government, consequently ruling out snap polls. Well, what else is he going to do? This also comes on the heels of a Goldman report that said a second bailout for the country will be necessary and will likely be discussed in the fall. That too is bullish. What also was bullish in Europe apparently is that government debt hit a new record high of 92.2% of GDP. Remember: debt is wealth so just buy more futures. Looking forward to the US, the market will focus on the latest existing home sales data, the Chicago Fed activity index, as well as earnings report releases from McDonalds, Texas Instruments and Halliburton and a bunch of other companies that will beat EPS and miss revenues.
If you’ve wondered what the next recession might bring in the way of U.S. corporate earnings, you don’t have long to wait for an answer. Analysts expect the 30 companies of the Dow Jones Industrial Average to post a meager 0.7% top line growth for the upcoming Q2 2013 reporting season. If recent history – think all the way back to Q1 2013 – is any guide, that means we’ll actually see a decline in revenues for the just completed quarter once all the numbers are out. And with Q1 posting an average negative 0.6% top line comparison to last year, that will constitute a “Revenue recession” for these large and generally well-managed multinationals. If that makes you question why U.S. stocks are still up 15% on the year, look to both corporate profits (still at record highs) and the anticipation for a better second half. Hope may not be a strategy, as the old saying goes, but it certainly moves markets.
NSA leaker Snowden shed new light on old relationships with a vibrant all-American industry
A 25-year-old research-and-development tax credit that was extended by Congress - following its expiration at the end of 2011 - lifted profits for many firms in the S&P 500 by over 10%. While top-line revenue growth was a damp squib, earnings grew a more robust 6.7% thanks, as the WSJ notes, in large part to this tax-credit's 'accounting' gains. This stock-market-saving tax-gimmick, however, is only for "big corporate America," since, "small firms aren't profitable enough to get the credit." Looking ahead, however, the unusual benefit from extension of the tax credit won't help corporate profits for the rest of this year as it is set to expire at the end of this year (having cost the taxpayer over $7 billion).
At some point, the Millennial generation will have to awaken to the fact that the only way to change its fate is to grasp political power and redirect the policy and mindset of the nation. Centralization is the black hole that is destroying the nation's social and economic vigor. Decentralization, transparency, accountability, adaptability, social innovation, a community-based economy - these are the key features of a sustainable social order. The existing social and financial order is crumbling because it is unsustainable on multiple levels. The Status Quo will cling to its false promises and corrupt centers of power until the moment the whole thing implodes. The central state is not the Millennials' friend, it is their oppressor.
The Big Buyers ... Unmasked
We have often spoken of the disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street. While asset prices are inflated by continued interventions of monetary policy from the Federal Reserve, boosting Wall Street profits and widening the wealth gap between the top 20% of Americans and the rest, "Main Street" continues to suffer a from a rising cost of living and falling wage growth. "How long can the disconnect last between Wall Street and Main Street?" There is no clear answer for that as consumers have shown a willingness to draw down savings rates to historically low levels while quickly returning to cheap credit forgetting the disaster that it caused them not so long ago. However, in reality, when you have a family to feed, clothe and house - it really doesn't matter what is logical, but what is necessary, regardless of the consequences down the road. Of course, for many American's today, the only real difference between now and the "bread lines" of the 30's is that the "bread" is delivered in the mail rather than at the "soup kitchen" on the corner.
Wall Street got into the single-family home business about a year ago. The win-win idea is to buy and rent until prices increase enough to make selling profitable. Investors can improve neighborhoods by fixing up vacant or damaged properties and providing lower-cost housing to people who are recovering from a foreclosure. But, as The Sacramento Bee reports, a responsible landlord is not guaranteed, and while no one is bashing renters, experts say it is human nature to care more for where you live when you own. The idea of a long-term home means more attention is paid to its upkeep and more consideration is given to neighbors, but "renters can change the culture of a neighborhood. In West Palm Beach, FL (where landlords are required to get licenses), applications are up from 296 in 2011 to 399 last year with one entity owning 150 'unregistered' homes: "it's a free-for-all, there's no such thing as a community anymore."
The Fed Engaging In Quantitative Easing Until Unemployment Falls Is Like a Medieval Doctor Bleeding a Patient with Leeches ...Submitted by George Washington on 05/01/2013 19:19 -0400
When sales reps, Easter, and the sequester get blamed for worldwide sales declines
The trajectory of self-employment from 1970 to the mid-2000s tracked general economic growth, which was weak in the 1970s but began a 30-year boom in the early 1980s. Things changed in the recession, as the self-employed ranks have lost 1.6 million from the peak in 2007. The number of self-employed has fallen to early 1980s levels. Small business is the incubator of employment. As it declines, so too do opportunities for first jobs, second chances and economic independence.
The insecurity of self-employment can generate a far more resilient life and mindset. In a sense being self-employed simply means stripping away the artifice that somebody else is going to take care of you or give you "free money." Once we understand the promised security is bogus, self-employment doesn't feel so risky--it feels like embracing the risk that is hidden behind the flimsy facade of team-building, "guaranteed" pensions and all the rest of the unpayable promises.
“We’ve become more concerned recently”