It looks like the third quarter saw the end of the long earning recession for Standard & Poor’s 500 companies. That recession had seen earnings for the S&P 500 companies drop for five straight quarters.
With more than 90% of the S&P 500 companies reporting, third quarter earnings are up 2.9% year over year, according to FactSet. At the beginning of earnings season, Wall Street analysts had expected earnings to fall for a sixth straight quarter, this time by 2.4%.
And now with the incoming Trump administration promising a big tax cut and $1 trillion in infrastructure project, Wall Street is projecting that earnings will accelerate in the fourth quarter. Fourth quarter earnings are now expected to grow by 3.3%.
There are enough sectors–banking and finance, for example–that are expected to show earnings and revenue growth in the fourth quarter even if the Federal Reserve raises interest rates as expected on December 14 to keep stocks moving up for a while.
Or at least to make shorting the main U.S. index a less than attractive proposition.
So as of Thursday, November 17, I’ll be selling my position in the ProShares Short S&P ETF (SH) out of my Jubak Picks portfolio. This short did have the effect of keeping me more in the market than I might otherwise have been as U.S. stock indexed moved from one historic high to another. But the pick itself was certainly not profitable with a loss of 16.45% as of the close on November 16 since I added this ETF to my portfolio on January 20, 2016.
Selling this ETF leaves me with just one short position in this portfolio, the ProShares Short Emerging Markets ETF (EUM.) I think that emerging markets are where the potential downside action is as President Trump figures out which of his promises to launch global trade wars he really intends to implement. Emerging market equities and currencies are also the most vulnerable part of the global financial market to further strength in the dollar with an interest rate increase by the Federal Reserve. Emerging market stocks have tumbled since Trump’s victory and the ProShares Short Emerging Markets ETF is up 7.7% from the close on November 8 to the close today, November 16.
Turning back to the earnings picture for the U.S. index, in the third quarter earnings growth has come from the real estate (35%), utilities (16%), consumer staples (8.5%), financials (8%), technology (7%), materials (6.4%), consumer discretionary (6.3%), and healthcare sectors (5.7%.) That’s pretty much every S&P 500 sector except for energy, industrials, and telecommunications. In the energy sector earnings have so far dropped by 62%. Earnings for Industrials are down 1.3% and for Telecommunications stocks 1.6%.
The big news for fourth quarter earnings is that they will mark the beginning of easier comparisons for the energy sector as the market laps the collapse of that sector. Energy earnings are expected to drop by just 3.8% in the fourth quarter.
According to FactSet the S&P 500 trades at about 18 times projected 2016 earnings and by 16.5 times projected 2017 earnings.