One of the problems with QE is that the Fed is forcing people to buy riskier investments than they otherwise would have. The immorality of their actions aside, they create a significant psychological mismatch between assets and their holders. Stocks are in weak hands, insuring one great stampede for the chairs when the music stops.
Blackberries, Apples & Fruit Borne Successitis - The Problem With Excess Profits Is Hubristic Management Tends To Take Eyes OffSubmitted by Reggie Middleton on 05/29/2013 09:46 -0400
Tim Cook was in the media yesterday saying that market share doesn't matter, profits do. Ahem, maybe you should listen more closely to your ex-boss, Steve Jobs!
- South China Sea tension mounts near Filipino shipwreck (Reuters)
- OECD cuts economic forecasts as eurozone drags on growth (FT)
- Switzerland frees banks to settle U.S. tax evasion cases (Reuters)
- U.S. Says Firm Laundered Billions (WSJ)... no, it's not HSBC, also: Free Corzine!
- Ardent conservative Bachmann to not seek re-election to Congress (Reuters)
- Russia faults U.S. over 'odious' Syria rights resolution (Reuters)
There has been much speculation in the recent past over what the bottom-line impact of surging stock buyback activity has been on the overall S&P earnings: after all, by removing shares from circulation, the denominator in "per share" calculation gets smaller and smaller with every incremental buyback. Courtesy of JPM we finally have a definitive answer to this long-running question. Of the change in S&P TTM operating earnings between Q3 2011 and the just completed Q1 2013, a stunning 60% or $2.20, of all "gains" of $3.70 have been the result of buybacks. The remainder: a tiny $1.50 is due to actual organic growth. This means that nearly 60% of the bridge between the LTM operating earnings of $94.60 as of Q3 2011 to $98.30 at Q1 2013 has come from corporate management teams engaging in shareholder friendly activity.
Over a year ago we wrote "How The Fed's Visible Hand Is Forcing Corporate Cash Mismanagement" in which we explained that due to ZIRP, management teams are left with just two (very shareholder-friendly) capital allocation choices: stock buybacks and dividends, to the detriment of such much more long-term critical uses of funds as capital expenditures, and to a lesser extent M&A. So far, this observation has proven spot on with buybacks (most of which using leverage to arb the record low cost of debt, notably in the case of Apple) dominating cash allocation decisions. However, there is a key drawback to this strategy: corporate assets whose age has hit all time highs across the globe. Naturally, this is a critical issue in a world in which the return on assets is now rapidly declining as seen in two years of deteriorating profit margins, and in which as much utility has been extracted as possible from an asset base which in many cases is well beyond its functional age. Logically, more and more companies will have no choice but to reasses capital deployment and in the coming months formerly very shareholder friendly companies will have no choice but to redeploy cash from dividends and buyback and to long-ignored capex once more. We bring this up because moments ago Dole Food just provided the missing piece to this capital allocation puzzle.
"It's highly debatable whether AAPL iCloud is making the inroads that they predicted..."
Once upon a time in the good old U.S. of A, way back in the 19th century, there were gigantic companies that were known as trusts. We had trusts for Steel, we had trusts for oil, we had trusts for railroads, and we had trusts for just about everything except trust itself.
There may be a rotten little maggot in Apple wiggling its way out as the EU antitrust-violation commission starts an inquiry after having been contacted by industry participants. Apple’s contracts with EU cellphone carriers are stricter than usual and in the face of popularity of the iPhone, those carriers have had little all else to do but to sign on the dotted line.
The old idiom “you can lead a horse to water, but not make him drink” has proven itself true in the course of human learning. Or rather, it would be more accurate to label it man’s inability to learn from mistakes. You can hold a mirror up to grotesque instances of hypocrisy, but most men will remain mules – stubborn in their prejudice and beliefs. The ability to heed lessons from blunders is, often times, a skill unable to be mastered by the mass populace. The mule, being a universal symbol for stubbornness, has become indistinguishable from the average news and politics ingester. Toeing the carefully-planned ideological path of media personalities, divergence from party line is a hurdle most pedestrians are incapable of clearing. What’s not done is a forthright attempt to continually rectify our wrongs and pursue truth – even when it conflicts with inner bias. It’s far less painful to not acknowledge faulty logic.
The Big Buyers ... Unmasked
Online tools to 1) see how much your deadbeat carrier ripped you off over the life of your contract 2) see how many times you've paid for that "free" or subsidized phone, 3) watch #margincompression in real time.
- The deeper agenda behind "Abenomics" (Reuters)
- BoJ governor Haruhiko Kuroda promises to stabilise bond market (FT)
- Obama Sees Sunset on Sept. 11 War Powers in Drone Limits (BBG)
- Lower CPMs for everyone: FTC Begins Probe of Google's Display-Ad Business (WSJ)
- Apple’s Tax Magic Leaves Irish Bondholders Unmoved (BBG)
- Asia Goes on a Debt Binge as Much of World Sobers Up (WSJ)
- All hail Gazpromia: UK gas supply six hours from running out in March (FT)
- Spain’s banks face €10bn more provisions (FT) ... and then more, and more, and more
- Truck strike may have caused Washington state bridge collapse, officials says (Reuters)
- P&G Says A.G. Lafley Rejoins as Chairman, CEO (BBG)
- Five Key Things About the SAC Insider Case (BBG)
We totally get why many are excited by the recent cyclical improvement in the Japanese economy. However, just because industrial production is turning up on the back of exports and 1Q GDP grew more than expected doesn’t mean Abeconomics is working. Most of the improvement in Japan is probably best described as a standard cyclical improvement in the aftermath of very depressed growth that was also heavily influenced by last year’s downturn in global trade. There are definitely signs that Japan’s economy are improving cyclically. However, as UBS notes, structurally, demographics remain a major headwind to raising aggregate demand. We feel many investors have not yet considered what slower growth for Asia will mean for Japan in the medium term. This will make it more difficult to raise aggregate demand above supply since capacity is sticky and Japan already has excess capacity. So for Abe-believers there will be fuel to support their optimism. However, once you move beyond that and think about what comes afterwards things look more challenging.
Money doesn’t stop at borders or oceans; accounting does.