Michael Burry, who became famous for his prescient predictions during the Great Financial Crisis immortalized in the 2015 movie ‘The Big Short,’ said this week that the current better-than-expected earnings season may be the best we see for some time.
“These earnings reports and by Jove the whole season have a ‘Last Hurrah’ feel,” he wrote in a now-deleted tweet on Tuesday.
The 51-year-old founder of Scion Asset Management has been warning of an impending recession for years now, arguing that longtime near-zero interest rates pushed risk assets like tech stocks and cryptocurrencies to unsustainable levels. And earlier this month, he made the case that inflation is here to stay as deglobalization drives countries to seek commodity self-sufficiency and restructure their supply chains.
Burry’s most recent comments follow Microsoft and Alphabet’s earnings, which were better-than-expected given the difficult macroeconomic environment, leading the big tech giant’s stocks to jump more than 4% on Wednesday.
Howard Silverblatt, a senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices, also noted in a Tuesday tweet that so far the second quarter earnings season has been relatively strong overall. With 28% of companies in the S&P 500 having reported earnings, 75.9% have beat their earnings estimates, while 71.2% topped sales estimates, he said.
Still, Bank of America strategists, led by Savita Subramanian, said in a research note on Monday that there have been some bearish signs in corporate earnings calls, lending weight to Burry’s “Last Hurrah” comments.
“Corporate sentiment during earnings calls sank, with a similar YoY [year-over-year] drop as in 2008,” they wrote.
Subramanian noted that year-over-year changes in sentiment have been “highly correlated” to subsequent quarter earnings, adding that this points to “a big drop in earnings ahead.”
The Bank of America team also said that mentions of weak demand in corporate earnings calls are at their highest level since COVID-19 began and that they see Netflix’s subscriber loss and AT&T’s $1 billion free-cash-flow forecast cut as “warning signs of weakening consumer strength.”
Burry predicted in June that U.S. inflation would lead to a pullback in consumer spending, or even a “consumer recession,” by Christmas. And so far, that’s what Wall Street is seeing.
Walmart’s profit warning this week was yet another confirmation for the hedge funder. The retail giant said that soaring food and fuel prices have wreaked havoc on consumer demand, and it is dealing with an inventory mismatch as a result, forcing price cuts on unsold goods.
The company saw a 24% drop in its net income for the quarter that ended in April, but noted that it expects a further decline this year due to its soaring costs and falling demand from consumers.
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