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Good morning, Bull Sheeters. Global stocks and U.S. futures are bouncing back in strong fashion this morning with a broad based surge across the likes of tech, finance and travel and leisure. Bitcoin bulls, too, have returned in force, sending the cryptocurrency above $50,000.
Again today, a quiet bond market is adding to the risk-on mood.
In today’s essay, we take a look at the earnings picture, and it looks rosy indeed for the year ahead. Still, that might not be enough to quiet all the concerns around asset bubbles in the equities market.
In the meantime, let’s see what else is moving markets.
- The major Asia indexes are solidly higher in afternoon trading, with the Shanghai Composite up 2%.
- China’s leaders meet tomorrow to hash out the nation’s goals in their latest five-year plan. The last one prioritized building China into a high-tech manufacturing giant. Here’s what we can expect from the next one.
- 13 years ago, Berkshire Hathaway made a $232 million investment on an obscure Chinese automaker BYD. The returns are in, and Warren Buffett’s bet on the EV maker is now worth nearly $6 billion.
- The European bourses were a touch higher with the Stoxx Europe 600 up 0.4% at the open, before climbing. There’s just one sector in the red this morning: utilities.
- Shares in Stellantis are up 2.6% in the first hour of trading after the carmaker (formed in January from the Fiat Chrysler-PSA merger) posted stellar results, what CEO Carlos Tavares called “a flying start.”
- SPACs are becoming a big deal in Europe, too. Sportradar, a Swiss gambling-data firm backed by Michael Jordan and Mark Cuban, will reportedly go public via a SPAC merger.
- U.S. futures are bouncing back after yesterday’s rough session in which all three major indexes dropped, with tech shares leading the way lower.
- One of the biggest losers yesterday was Zoom, down 9% on Tuesday. That’s despite über-bull Cathie Wood’s $95 million bet on the stay-at-home darling.
- Shares in Intel are flat pre-market after the chipmaker lost a mammoth ruling to pay up $2.2 billion in a patent dispute.
- Gold is down, trading below $1,730/ounce.
- The dollar is flat.
- Crude is down with Brent trading below $63/barrel as OPEC+ is said to be planning a production spike to cool off the red-hot market.
- Bitcoin is up, breaking above the $50,000 threshold.
Correction and update, March 3, 2020: This post has been updated with a corrected figure for the investment Cathie Wood made in Zoom Video Communications.
The lowdown on EPS
We’re nearly done with earnings season in the U.S. To recap, this was one of the best quarters for beats in more than a decade—and that’s true of industries across the board.
A greater than anticipated number of companies not only beat on the top- and bottom-lines, they also provided a batch of far rosier outlooks than expected.
Those bullish pronouncements forced analysts to revise upwards their 2021 forecasts for Corporate America.
One closely watched revision comes from Goldman Sachs, which now forecasts S&P 500 EPS will grow by 21% this year (up from a 13% decline a year ago) to $181. That would be a solid 10% higher than the 2019 pre-pandemic level of $165.
Earnings growth will be in the 9% range next year, before settling to a more normalized 6% gain in in 2023 and 5% gain in 2024. Here’s the chart they provide:
That forecast is a bit more optimistic than consensus estimates, and that’s because Goldman sees plenty of tailwinds ahead for American businesses. They include: an improved labor market, a solid vaccine-led economic bounce-back, a resurgent energy market, a weaker dollar, status quo on corporate taxes (for this year, at least), and trillions more in fiscal stimulus.
“The combination of vaccine roll-out, substantial fiscal stimulus, and elevated consumer savings should drive a sharp recovery in economic and earnings growth,” Goldman Sachs portfolio strategists write in an investors note.
But the earnings recovery will, as always, be an uneven one. Cyclical factors will be most affected. “From 2019-2022E, we forecast double-digit EPS CAGR for Consumer Discretionary, Materials, and Information Technology, led by some of the largest stocks in the index,” Goldman strategists write.
If you’re long big caps, that’s good news.
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Quote of the day
I’m just trying to get more business!
That was Bernie Madoff—yes, the Ponzi schemer—back in 1991 arguing the merits of PFOF in the offices of the SEC. Fortune's Shawn Tully finds the people who were in the room that day discussing the origin of the now-controversial "pay for order flow" mechanism that's given rise to no-fee trading now popularized by Robinhood, TD Ameritrade, E*Trade, Schwab. It's a great read.