Looks like the Jefferies earnings harbinger were right, because with another quarter down, and here is another painful report by JPM, which just launched the Q4 earnings season for financials with a miss on both the top and bottom line, reporting $1.19 in EPS, well below the $1.32 consensus, and just barely above the lower estimate of $1.16. This was a decline from both the previous quarter (by 17 cents) and from a year ago (by 11 cents). Revenues missed as well, with JPM reporting $23.552 billion in top line, a decline of $560 million from a year ago ($1.6 billion lower than Q3), and below the $24.0 billion consensus. And while JPM's latest recurring, non-one time "one-time, non-recurring" charge came as a surprise to most (although how over $30 billion in legal charges can be considered one-time is beyond us), at the same time JPM once again resorted to the oldest trick in the book, taking the benefit of some $704 million in loan loss reserve releases, nearly offsetting the entire negative impact of the legal charge.
Alcoa delivers the daily lesson on how to full everyone with non-GAAP BS all the time.
The WSJ is shocked to learn that among the costs companies "exclude" from non-GAAP earnings include such items as regulatory fines, “rebranding” expenses, pension expenses, fines, costs for establishing new manufacturing sources, fees paid to the board of directors, severance costs, executive bonuses and management-recruitment costs, and much, much more.
Less than three months ago, on September 30, 2014, "consensus" expected that EPS and revenue growth in 2015 would be 11.8% and 4.3%, respectively. As of December 19, those projected growth rates have plunged to 7.9% and 2.8%. In other words, both revenue and EPS growth has been slashed by one third in under one quarter (while revenue growth for Q1 and Q2 2015 has cratered from 4.5% and 3.6% to 1.4% and 1.0%, respectively). Why? Spotting the "odd one out" in the charts below should provide the answer,
"It becomes tempting to take on too much leverage, use financial wizardry to reward shareholders or even stretch accounting principles. S&P 500 profits are 86% higher than they would be if accounting standards of the national accounts were used, Pelham Smithers Associates notes. And the gap between the two measures is widening, the research firm finds." - Blackrock
So how did Walgreen succeed in boosting its aftertax EPS to beat expectations even as revenues missed expectations, especially with operating income in the quarter virtually unchanged from a year ago? The answer, as shown in the chart below is simple: WAG used the oldest trick in the book, and stretched its effective tax rate for GAAP purposes in the quarter to the lowest it could go.
... it remains to be seen if market bubblemania on the back of central bank multiple expanion around the world can thrive, especially as corporate cash flow (and revenue, and GAAP EPS) growth trickles to a halt, coupled with an energy and junk bond market implosion, but when it comes to Barron's covers top-ticking the market, it is never different.
As of Q3, when adding the consensus number for Q4 EPS, we find that while non-GAAP EPS is set to rise by a healthy 6.6%, real rarnings, as in GAAP EPS, will actually decline by 1.3% in 2014, meaning that for yet another year, the only upside in stocks has been due to - thank you Fed - multiples expansion.
Another day, another case of central banks, not one but two this time, dictating "price" action.
Here we go again. By now everyone, including 2 year old E-trade babies and Atari algos know, that the only reason the market soared from the October 15 bottom, a move which we showed was entirely due to multiple expansion and thus nothing to do with earnings and everything to do with faith in even more free central-planning liquidity (something the PBOC was all too happy to provide overnight), was James Bullard's casual "QE4" hint on Bloomberg TV. And now that the market is at ridiculous all time highs and trading above 19x GAAP PE, far above the level when in September the IMF, the G-20, the BIS and even the Fed all warned of assets bubbles, here is Bullard once again, with a fresh mea culpa and a new attempt to jawbone stocks, only this time back down, because as Dow Jones reports, "Bullard Says Markets Misread Him In October Bond-Buying Dustup."
Goldman may have been right that there will be no more multiple expansion in 2015, but there sure was quite a bit overnight thanks to the latest verbal and actual central bank interventions by the ECB and the PBOC. And as a result, the biggest beneficiary is the S&P500, which is set to open just around 2070, or about 30 points shy of Goldman's 2015 S&P500 year-end target. And for those who still care about such things, the chart below shows that fundamentally, the S&P is now trading at 17.5x non-GAAP LTM EPS, and, drumroll, 19.2X GAAP PE!
"The multiple expansion phase of the current bull market ended in 2013. The strong S&P 500 YTD price gain of 10% roughly matches the realized year/year EPS growth of the index. The index has climbed by 17% annually during the past three years as the consensus forward P/E multiple surged by nearly 60% from 10x to 16x. ... We forecast US stocks will deliver a modest total return of 5% in 2015, in line with profit growth. The US economy will expand at a brisk pace. Corporations will boost sales and keep margins elevated allowing managements to both invest for growth and return cash to shareholders via buybacks and dividends. Investors will cheer these positive fundamental developments."
The BTFDippier of the fast money is already rotating into a long-Europe mode: their entire thesis is that sooner or later the whales will have no choice but to follow the momentum chasers right back into Europe, because where else are they going to go: in the "safety" of the S&P's 19x GAAP P/E? In theory this would be a great strategy, if only in a world in which nobody actually does any fundamental homework and the only thing that matters is frontrunning the next great sucker. In practice, it is fatally wrong. As the following observation from hedge fund Lyxor shows, while CTA and momentum strats have indeed bailed on Europe in recent months, the so-called smart money, the "global macro" funds never left.
While the Tesla endgame is increasingly apparent to anyone who is not hypnotized by the Musk siren , here, for everyone else, are three charts that scream that the Amazon "growth story" revulsion is just one determined seller away.
Update: the reason FB stock is now crashing is because moments ago, the CFO stunned the investing community when he announced that FaceBook costs next year will go up by 55-75% without giving guidance on 2015 revenue. He also announced that WhatsApp, FB's $19 billion acqusition, was "accretive" to the tune of a $232 million loss in the past 6 months. Stock now down over 10%.
Facebook reported that its Monthly Active Users for the US and Canada - the segment that generates roughly half of all FB sales - rose to a record 206 million. Putting that number in context: in the same two countries, there are currently about 155 million people employed. In other words, there are about 1.3 Facebook users for every single employed person in the US and Canada.