Corporate Earnings in 2014
Corporate earnings, also referred to as “company earnings” and “corporate profits,” is the amount of money a company makes in certain period of time. The price/earnings multiple is still the most common tool used to value a company. The stock market values a company based on the amount of money (earnings and profit) the company has after all expenses, including taxes, have been paid.
In a stock market where stocks are traded at an average of 12 times earnings, a company making $1.00 a share per year would be valued at $12.00. All things being equal, the more money a public company makes, the higher its stock price.
Spring is finally here, but that certainly doesn’t mean corporate America will cease to use the cold weather as an excuse for abysmal corporate earnings. Throw a dart at any sector, and you’ll find CEOs blaming the weather in some capacity—well, save for the utilities companies.
One sector that might be able to (on some level) justifiably blame the weather for a weak start to the year is the auto sector. Overall, U.S. auto sales were up eight percent year-over-year, while Canadian auto sales were up four percent. (Source: Isidore, C., “Car sales make a strong comeback in 2013,” CNN Money web site, January 3, 2014.)
In 2013, U.S. auto sales topped 15 million for the first time since 2007. While auto sales of 15.6 million were below the 16.0 million forecast by analysts, it was still an encouraging sign for the auto industry. Ford Motor Company’s U.S. sales were up 11%, while Chrysler Group LLC saw its sales climb by nine percent, and General Motors Company reported a 7.3% increase.
The 2013 auto sales data is encouraging in light of the disappointing December sales numbers; this also happened to coincide with the start of the dastardly winter of 2014. The weak end-of-the-year auto sales sentiment skidded over into 2014. Auto sales missed both their January and February expectations.
So far, 2014 has been good for global auto sales. Global sales hit record territory in February, climbing seven percent year-over-year. Auto sales in China climbed 22%, while car sales in Western Europe climbed year-over-year for the sixth consecutive month. Spain led the way with an 18% jump in auto sales. … Read More
Problems in the Canadian economy are growing and whispers of an economic slowdown are looming in the air. If an economic slowdown does occur, the Canadian dollar will be the primary victim—and investors can profit heavily from this scenario.
The central bank of the country isn’t very optimistic about the growth. Commenting on the country’s first-quarter growth, the governor of the Bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz, said, “What we have seen is that the numbers in the first quarter have been a little shy of what we were expecting.” He added, “It’s easy to point to the weather as a qualitative explainer, but it is hard for us to believe that all of that is just that.” (Source: Woodbury, R., “UPDATE 3-Canada’s Poloz sees a future of slower growth, low rates,” Reuters, March 18, 2014.)
The Bank of Canada lowered its growth estimates from what it originally anticipated. It now expects the Canadian economy to grow at an annualized pace of 2.5% in the first quarter compared to the 2.9% it predicted in December.
The Bank of Canada isn’t the only place that is suggesting the Canadian economy is headed towards an economic slowdown.
The companies traded on Canadian stock exchanges are warning about an economic slowdown, too. We can tell this by looking at their corporate earnings. If their profits start to show troubles, then it means the overall economy may be slowing. Consider this: in the fourth quarter of 2013, 60% of all the companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) missed their earnings expectations. (Source: Shmuel, J., “Why is the TSX rallying even as Canadian companies suffer?” … Read More
Income inequality plays an important role in whether or not an economy experiences economic growth. If a small number of people earn the majority of the wages in a country, that sets the country up for a disastrous situation. What this essentially does is create a significant disparity. You can expect to see certain businesses do really well while others struggle severely, which is the result of those who are earning fewer wages spending less and those who are earning a significant portion spending more.
Sadly, this is what we see in the U.S. economy. Income inequality is increasing. It suggests economic growth is a farfetched idea.
According to a study by the Paris School of Economics, in the U.S. economy, the richest 0.1% earns nine percent of the national income. The bottom 90% of Americans—the majority of the population—only earn 50% of the national income. (Source: Arends, B., “Inequality worse now than on ‘Downton Abbey,’” MarketWatch, February 27, 2014.)
Former Federal Reserve chairman Allan Greenspan said, “I consider income inequality the most dangerous part of what’s going on in the United States.” (Source: Well, D., “Greenspan: Income Inequality ‘Most Dangerous’ Trend in US,” Moneynews, February 25, 2014.)
Income inequality in the U.S. economy is very evident, no matter where you look.
As I mentioned earlier, when there is income inequality in a country, you can expect certain businesses to do poorly. For example, consider Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE/WMT)—one of the biggest retailers in the U.S. economy known for its low prices. Due to the U.S. government pulling back on its food stamp programs, the company is worried. The executive … Read More
When you are looking at your portfolio and considering making adjustments, it’s important to take into account not only the current environment, but what potential changes could occur in the future that can alter your investment strategy.
Here’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about:
We all know that Japan has been trying to lower its currency in an attempt to stimulate its economy.
What’s a side effect of a weaker economy? Higher import prices, and since Japan relies almost entirely on imported energy, costs are rising significantly, which is hurting the average Japanese citizen since wages are not increasing.
Just recently, Japan announced that it is now drafting a plan that will reopen nuclear power plants, allowing the country to rely on nuclear power for their core power production once again. (Source: Iwata, M., “Japan sees key role for nuclear power,” Wall Street Journal, February 25, 2014.)
We all know about the horrible disaster that occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, but as much as Japan doesn’t want nuclear power, the country is finding that it has no alternative.
This is a significantly bullish scenario for uranium stocks. Obviously, following the disaster, corporate earnings for uranium stocks fell sharply along with the price of the commodity. The natural investment strategy was to avoid this sector until there was some clarity about the potential for a renewed interest in uranium, which should help drive corporate earnings.
It appears we are certainly turning the corner, as 17 nuclear power plants are currently being screened to be restarted by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. In total, Japan has 48 nuclear reactors, which … Read More