We are fully into earnings season, and the battle continues. Last week, we had a number of big names report: some good, some bad, and some just plain ugly. And there are another 125 companies in the S&P 500 scheduled to report this week.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) was one of the big disappointments of last week. I surprised many of my clients by selling Apple shares a couple of weeks ago. Apple’s stock had been moving sideways since February, and with the Apple Watch receiving a less-than-enthusiastic response in the marketplace and a few other catalysts, this was not sizing up to be a “blowout” quarter.
That was indeed the case. Apple did beat earnings and revenue expectations on strong iPhone sales, but its forward guidance was below what analysts had been modeling. Given that the stock had run up ahead of the quarter, the fallout was all the greater with the stock trading down 7% on the results. AAPL looks like “dead money” until it hits another home run. Big Blue, IBM reported dismal earnings. If Apple doesn’t watch out, it risks turning into another IBM.
In fact, there was not a lot to rave about with among the big tech names, with Microsoft also posting disappointing results.
Now, for the good. Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) crushed its earnings expectations. It is a name I continue to own. And one area of the market delivering very strong results has been in credit card financials. Both MasterCard and Visa reported excellent earnings and were rewarded accordingly. I own both names.
And finally a name I own, but wish I didn’t last week. The ugliest story of last week was Biogen Inc (NASDAQ:BIIB). The stock was hit by a perfect storm of slower earnings growth, disappointing guidance, and pipeline problems. The stock traded down more than 20%, and the analyst darling stock received a slew of downgrades.
Worries about weakening global growth are also weighing on the market this earnings season. Greece may be on the back burner, but China continues to sell-off, as concerns about a hard-landing there persist. And Latin America has gone from bad, to ugly.
One of the best indicators of global growth is commodity prices, and they continue to sell-off hard. Look at the massive sell-off they have experienced this month.
So U.S. stock market returns remain muted this year, thanks to mixed earnings results and concerns about slow global growth. All of this is not helped by the overhang of a potential Fed rate increase. Leadership in the market is still very narrow with Banks, Healthcare, Biotech, Pharma, Internet, and the Consumer stocks offering the best opportunities according to the Best Stocks Now app.
Data from Best Stocks Now app
I have been bullish on the market since March 23, 2009. Here’s why I remain bullish on the market
As long as earnings of the S&P 500 continue to grow, so will the market. S&P 500 earnings bottomed out at $59 per share way back in 2009. The S&P 500 also bottomed out at around 660. S&P 500 earnings have been growing ever since. And the market has also been going up ever since.
My projections for 2015 S&P 500 earnings currently stand at about $119 per share. Earnings will have doubled since the 2009 lows while the market has tripled. Those $119 earnings per share this year compare with $117.25 last year. The small increase in earnings this year is the main reason the market is only up about 2% this year. This has been caused by a big drop off in the earnings of the energy sector and a very strong dollar that has hurt the multi-nationals.
I currently have a projection of about $133 per share for 2016. At 17X earnings the S&P 500 has the potential to hit 2,325 over the next twelve months. You can also add in dividends to this number. More importantly, the upwards trend of earnings for the S&P 500 is still intact that began back in 2009.
Now, look ahead to this week’s basket of earnings to see what looks good, bad, and ugly and what it all means for the market as a whole.
But for now, I remain a BULL.
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