The Mediocre Truth About Earnings Season

Tyler Durden's picture

While headlines crow of company performance this earnings season and as usual consistent patterns are extrapolated and exaggerated into a forceful flow of propaganda for why everyone should buy stocks, the truth is much less spectacular and in fact downright disappointing if one looks to the future (as opposed to the rear-view mirror). More than two-thirds of the S&P 500's market cap has reported and until last week, there was a very high 83% of companies beating expectations with positive earnings surprises. However, last week's swathe of mediocrity dragged that average down to a much more in-line 77% (which quite frankly still reflects somewhat poorly on all those well-paid analysts out there) but more to the point is absolutely nothing exceptional in terms of why-you-should-buy-stocks-now. Aggregate earnings have exceeded estimates by 7% (impressive indeed) while revenues have beaten by 1% (less so) but what is critical to comprehend if you are investing for future returns as opposed to what you hoped you could have made last quarter, is the fact that forward guidance is almost entirely unchanged for 2012. This reflects companies' perceptions of 'low visibility in global growth across economies' with a consistent theme of European and Emerging Market growth slowdowns being offset by better-than-expected US growth - and we think we have burst that US decoupling bubble enough times now to comprehend its meaning for disappointing earnings for the rest of 2012 as relative demand was dragged forward into Q1. All-in-all, mediocrity rules the surprises and forward expectations continue to disappoint the maddening crowd.

Companies Exceeding estimates is now 'average'...

but no follow-through on a better Q1 earnings picture for the rest of the year...

Source: Barclays