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Τα απογοητευτικά κέρδη, η θετική ψυχολογία των επενδυτών και το "αόρατο χέρι" της FED

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Τα απογοητευτικά κέρδη, η θετική ψυχολογία των επενδυτών και το "αόρατο χέρι" της FED

Wall Street analysts have grown increasingly pessimistic in recent weeks about the outlook for corporate profits, even as investors have pushed markets steadily higher, breaking the link between analyst forecasts and the direction of stock prices.

Most companies in the S&P 500 stock index have reported their first-quarter earnings, and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on profits is becoming clear, at least for January through March. On a per-share basis, profits of S&P 500 companies fell by 13 percent, making it the worst slump since 2009.

S&P 500 quarterly earnings-per-share, year-over-year change

Analysts think things will get worse before they get better. At the end of March, the consensus among analysts was that profits at companies that make up the index would sink a modest 1.8 percent in 2020. But after digesting the financial reports of companies from Agilent Technologies to Zions Bancorp, they now think 2020 profits will tumble more than 20 percent.

Any finance textbook’s section on equity prices holds that the direction of the stock market is determined, to a large extent, by the profits and dividends that shareholders expect companies to produce in the future. And academic research has repeatedly shown that when Wall Street analysts revise their forecasts for a company’s profits, it can move share prices.

Traders and investors routinely take note of when analysts erase earlier expectations, using those revisions as a real-time gauge of how the fundamental business prospects of corporate America are looking.

Going by the conventional wisdom, the current collapse in profit expectations — and analysts’ woeful prognoses for future earnings — should be clobbering share prices. But investors don’t appear to be taking their cues from analysts. The S&P 500 has soared more than 30 percent over the last two months.

To be sure, investors priced in some downturn in profits when stocks suffered a 34 percent collapse in February and March. They were right, and the pain, reflected in earnings reports, was widespread.

Analyst expectations for S&P 500 earnings per share in 2020

Bank earnings were fairly awful. Quarterly profits at JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America all undershot Wall Street expectations, thanks to the costs of setting aside large amounts of cash to cover an expected surge in borrowers who can’t make loan payments because they’re suddenly unemployed. Numbers from credit card issuers like Capital One and Discover were also ugly.

Firms that rely on discretionary consumer spending were, unsurprisingly, hammered. The casino operator Las Vegas Sands posted a first-quarter loss of $51 million, compared with a profit of $744 million during the same period last year. Profits fell 92 percent for the hotel company Marriott International. The cruise line Carnival lost $781 million during the first quarter. Even Amazon.com, ideally positioned for a world reliant on home deliveries, saw profits fall 29 percent as the costs of keeping open during the crisis increased.

 

Πηγή: www.nytimes.gr

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