Corporate Beige Book: It Keeps Getting Better

After a very strong first quarter earnings season, we expected to see management sentiment also improve. And similar to how earnings results and the guidance from management were better than we expected, so was our measure of corporate sentiment based on earnings conference call transcripts, which we call our Corporate Beige Book. We saw a sharp increase in the strong and positive words over the prior quarter, with no change in the weak and negative words. There was virtually no talk of recession — as expected — and far less attention was paid toward potential policy changes out of Washington, D.C.

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Focus on Fundamentals

What are we telling our investors? Focus on fundamentals. It was an up-anddown week for stocks as market participants became increasingly worried that the Trump administration’s agenda was in danger following the latest news surrounding the Russian investigation. On Wednesday (May 17), the S&P 500 Index suffered its biggest one-day drop in nearly a year (-1.8%), while the Nasdaq Composite (-2.6%) and Russell 2000 Index (-2.8%) suffered even bigger losses.

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Earnings Update: Raising The Bar

Excellent earnings season but bar will soon be raised. First quarter earnings season has been excellent by almost any measure. Results beat expectations by more than usual. The overall growth rate is very strong, even without the big boost from energy. The ratio of companies lowering versus raising second (current) quarter earnings forecasts is well above average and guidance has provided better-than-usual support for analysts’ estimates for the balance of 2017. In total, these are all good things.

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Five Reasons Not to Sell in May

“Sell in May and go away” is probably the most widely cited cliché in stock market history. May is upon us, which sparks a barrage of Wall Street commentaries, media stories, and investor questions every year about the popular stock market adage. This week, we tackle this widely cited seasonal pattern, but focus on some reasons it might not work this year.

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Reflecting on NASDAQ 6,000

The Nasdaq Composite hit 6,000 last week, more than 17 years after first reaching 5,000 in March 2000. The road from the first break above 5,000 to the 6,000 milestone was a long one. During the internet boom in the late 1990s, moves from 3,000 to 4,000 and 4,000 to 5,000 were quick, at 56 and 71 days respectively, before the long and winding road to 6,000 over the course of 6,256 days [Figure 1]. But after the 15-year journey back to 5,000 was completed in 2015, the Nasdaq traversed the next 1,000 points relatively quickly to break through the 6,000 level on April 25, 2017.

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Europe Enters The Tour De France

The next four weeks will be a major turning point for European investors. France is in the middle of what is arguably its most important election cycle since World War II. The results of the second round of presidential elections, as well as parliamentary elections scheduled for mid-June, will determine if France maintains its historical position as one of the primary advocates for European integration and identity or if anti-European candidates garner additional power. France is both literally and figuratively at the center of Europe, and the concern that it will become more anti-European may be having greater impact on the markets than is apparent at first. Even with pressing political issues, it’s important not to overlook corporate fundamentals, which have also been seeing a meaningful reversal. European corporate earnings experienced a strong rebound at the end of 2016, with consensus expectations from Thomson Reuters of another 20% increase over 2017. These are optimistic forecasts, and though certainly possible, combined with the political uncertainty has kept LPL Research from recommending European equities on a tactical basis.

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Which Breaks First, Stock Prices or Uncertainty?

Some significant technical trend lines are in play, so we take a closer look at market technicals and sentiment this week. The longer-term technicals continue to look strong, and an evaluation of global market breadth suggests the path of least resistance remains higher for stocks. However, sentiment remains a much more mixed picture indicating that market volatility could finally be heating up.

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First Quarter 2017 Earnings Preview

The S&P 500 is poised for double-digit earnings growth in the first quarter. Earnings season gets underway this week and corporate America is poised to show a strong increase in its bottom line. The S&P 500 appears likely to produce doubledigit year-over-year earnings growth for the first quarter, powered by energy’s rebound from the oil downturn that battered the sector early last year. Last year’s first quarter marked the trough of the earnings recession as S&P 500 earnings fell 5%, setting up an easy comparison for the first quarter of 2017 [Figure 1]. This week we preview the upcoming earnings season. Continue reading “First Quarter 2017 Earnings Preview”

Fourth Quarter 2016 Earnings Preview

key-takeaways

Fourth quarter 2016 earnings season gets underway this week (January 9–13), and it looks like it will be another good one. With Alcoa no longer the unofficial kick off of the earnings season, we will consider Friday the start of the season when several big banks with the potential to move the market will report. Here we preview fourth quarter earnings season, which we expect to be another good one, marking the return of earnings growth to the energy sector.

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