With minutes to go, this is what the world (according to the Google machine) is thinking ahead of Apple's earnings... and what the market expects...
Google's Q4, 2012: This Looks To Be The Leader Of The New Distributed Information Paradigm, As I called It In 2010Submitted by Reggie Middleton on 01/23/2013 12:32 -0400
As the video denotes below, here we have big brother traded on an exchange
The algos have gone nuts after hours, but here are the numbers:
- GOOGLE 4Q REV. EX TAC $11.34B, Exp. $12.36
- GOOGLE 4Q AVERAGE COST-PER-CLICK FELL 6% VS YEAR AGO
- GOOGLE 4Q EPS EX ITEMS $10.65, EST. $10.50
Fraudulent Chinese corporations are nothing new - we have been warning about them since late 2010, spurring the creation of a cottage industry focused exclusively on unmasking such public reverse merger companies (and generating trading profits along the way). One company, however, which apparently was completely unaware of the now pervasive and proven for the past two years Chinese corporate fraud, is US industrial titan Caterpillar. This was made clear when, after hours on Friday night naturally, the company revealed that it had been misled by "deliberate, multi-year, coordinated accounting misconduct" at a subsidiary of a Chinese company it acquired last summer, leading it to write off most of the value of the deal. In the process it would also take a $580 million, or $0.87 cent charge to earnings, which would wipe out more than half its expected earnings of $1.70 for the fourth quarter of 2012. One wonders, however, is there more to this story than just a case of a gentle, naive board duped by fraudulent, evil, cunning "Chinamen" which may have watched one too many episodes of Autonomy does Hewlett Packard?
Over a year ago we noted that when it comes to Bank of America "earnings", items which traditionally are classified as non-recurring, one-time: primarily litigation and mortgage related charges, have now become recurring, and all the time, courtesy of the worst M&A transaction of all time - the purchase of Countrywide and its horrifying mortgage book. Today, this is finally being appreciated by the market where even the pompom carriers have said that it is time to start ignoring the endless addbacks and focus on actual earnings. The same cheerleaders have also, finally, understood that the primary source of "profitability" at this lawsuit magnet of a company, is nothing other than the accounting trick known as loan loss reserve releases - not actual profits but merely bottom line adjustments whose purpose is to mitigate the impact of quarterly charge offs on loans gone horrible bad. Remember that Bank of America has some $908 billion in total consumer loans and leases, and every day hundreds of millions of these go 'bad' and ultimately have to be discharged, offset by "hopes" that the future will improve. This hits both the balance sheet and the P&L. So, if one steps back and ignores the non-recurring, one-time noise, what emerges? A truly frightening picture.
One of the biggest "givens" of the New Normal was that no matter what happens, US corporations would build their cash hoard come hell or high water. Whether this was a function of saving for a rainy day in a world in which external liquidity could evaporate overnight, whether it was to have dry powder for dividends and other shareholder friendly transactions, or to be able to engage in M&A and other business transformations (but not CapEx, anything but CapEx), corporate cash swelled to over $2 trillion (the bulk of it held in deposit accounts, or directly invested in "cash equivalents" i.e. risk assets, in banks in the US and abroad). Whatever the use of funds, the source was quite clear: ever declining interests rate which allowed corporate refinancings into ever lower cash rates, a "buyer's market" when it comes to employees, the bulk of which have been transformed into low paid geriatric (55 years and older), part-time workers: the only two categories that have seen a steady improvement in employment since the start of the second great depression, and low, low corporate taxes (for cash tax purposes; for GAAP purposes it is different story altogether). So some may be surprised that the great corporate cash hoard build appears to have finally tapered off. As the chart below from Goldman shows, after hitting an all time high of 11.2%, the ratio of S&P500 cash to total assets has once again started to decline.
Just because CNBC's ridiculous "Rise Above" campaign has ended in abysmal failure (because who could have possibly imagined that the pin is not mightier than the utter dysfunction that is America's Congress), does not mean that other companies besides the Comcast-GE JV can't try their hands at an advertising campaign that piggybacks on politics. Sure enough, here is the company that an infamous movie made famous as Planet Starbucks, making a desperate plea to its readers to please "come together", think of the children, and "fix the debt." The same Starbucks that apparently had no such qualms as recently as a few months ago when it was revealed that the same company paid virtually no taxes in the UK, thereby quite directly contributing to "unfixing the debt."
We have maintained (here and here) for quite some time that the only true "consumer confidence" statistic one should look at is that of gun sales. The bottom line is, as Mike Krieger so rightly points out, people do not hoard guns when they are confident about the future of the country, and gun sales have never been better. More evidence emerged as Smith & Wesson just announced record financial results.
Nobody can doubt that (in)famous short seller Muddy Waters, whose initial research pieces received broad distribution on the virtual pages of Zero Hedge, does sufficient due diligence on the companies they designate as targets of their ire. And just for humiliating John Paulson with the utter debacle that was Sino Forest they will forever live in the pantheon of "out of the blue", ad hoc bearish research analysts with a chip on their shoulder. Furthermore, right or wrong, Muddy Waters and their fraudcap peers do a great benefit to the investing society by testing, often repeatedly, the weakest links in the "story" of any one company (especially those out of the increasingly more criminal orient) - if right, it merely precipitates the bankruptcy of what will be a dead end corporate story and thus the misallocation of capital by lazier investors; if wrong, they allow management to generate higher IRRs by buying back their stock in the open market (a far better use of funds for honest management teams than suing independent third party research analysts who may or may not have a short stake). Yet sooner or later, everyone peaks. Has Muddy Waters? This is perhaps a relevant question now that the shorters have taken up another campaign, this time against Singapore agri-processor Olam. The raw data, compiled by Bloomberg is below: decide for yourselves.
With everyone now well aware that revenues of S&P 500 companies have taken a turn for the worse and are declining for the second consecutive quarter (with well over a majority missing sellside estimates and trimming Q4 guidance), many are wondering: how can corporate EPS continue to grow, even if nominally? Are there really so many people left to be laid off? The answer, to the latter, is no, for the simple reason that it is not layoffs that have driven the upward persistency in corporate earnings. Then what has? Simple: when in doubt, "charge it" - this axiom seems to work not only for cash strapped consumers, but for corporations who know very well that when unable to satisfy earnings estimates using regular way earnings, companies can just write off "one time charges" and get the going concern EPS benefit for such an action.In fact, as the table below shows, a whopping 14% of all 'pro forma' 2012 EPS will be due to "one time write offs" - the highest proportion of total earnings since 2009!
Readers of Zero Hedge know well that one of the most abhorred (by us) accounting gimmicks employed by banks each and every quarter over the past 3 years to boost their bottom line, is to engage in loan-loss reserve releases: a process which has absolutely no associated cash flow benefit, but merely boosts EPS for GAAP purposes. In some cases, like this quarter's absolutely farcical JPM earnings release, the abuse is beyond the pale, as the offending bank releases reserves even as it reports surging non-performing loans: two processes which in a normal world can not coexist. Yet quarter after quarter banks keep on doing this, and in fact a big part of Q3's to date EPS outperformance is courtesy of financial company "earnings", of which, in turn, loan losses amount to about 50% of the entire blended financials bottom line. Yet while we can rage and warn, nothing usually happens until there is a market crash due to the gross manipulation of reality that such an activity entails. Luckily, this time someone with more clout in the legacy establishment has now stood up to warn about the mounting dangers associated with the relentless abuse of loan-loss reserve releases: none other than the US Comptroller of the Currency.
Earlier this week two former Merrill colleagues, since separated, were reunited on several media occasions, and allowed to spar over their conflicting views of the world. The two people in question, of course, are Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg, best known during the past 3 years for not drinking the propaganda Kool-Aid, and systematically deconstructing every "bullish" macroeconomic datapoint into its far more downbeat constituent parts, and his ebullient ex-coworker, Richard Bernstein, formerly head of equity strategy at a firm that had to be rescued by none other than Bank of America and currently head of RBA advisors, who just happens to be bullish on, well, everything. And since any attempt at holding an intelligent conversation on CNBC is ultimately futile (as can be seen here) and is constantly broken up by both ads, and interjecting anchors and show producers who care far less about facts than keeping the presentation 'engaging' (and going to such lengths to even allow Jim Cramer to have his own TV show), Rosenberg decided to dedicate his entire letter to clients today to "providing a rebuttal" of the slate of reasons why according to Bernstein the "we are on the precipice of a 1982-2000 style of secular market." What follows is one of the most comprehensive "white papers" debunking the bullish view we have seen in a while. Read on.
Google is down over 8% as it reported earnings early and surprised to the downside...
- GOOGLE 3Q REV. EX TAC $11.33B, EST. $11.83B
- GOOGLE 3Q ADJ. EPS $9.03, EST. $10.65
- Q3 REVENUE EX-TAC $11.33 BLN VS EXP. $11.83 BN
- Q3 NETWORK REVENUE USD 3.13 BLN
Full EDGAR filing below...
With global growth slowing, global trade tumbling, and earnings revisions falling rapidly, equity market outperformance has been (as we noted earlier) based on the Fed/ECB's largesse. The unanswered question is - how much is now priced in? Given recent 'stability' post-FOMC, it seems the follow-through is not there (especially if we look at sectoral performance) and based on David Rosenberg's estimate of Fed QE's impact on stocks, we think we know why. In the last three months, the S&P 500 has 'outperformed' the Fed balance sheet by around 220 points - which equates to a pricing-in of around 11 months of additional QEternity.