It’s become pretty obvious that this quarter’s earnings season isn’t what uber-bulls might have hoped for.
The first hints of that came when the financials reported earnings, and almost to a bank there was something “meh” about each one. Goldman Sachs missed estimates on the top line. Bank of America posted a shock loss thanks to mortgage issues (still!).
Then there were a host of commodity-sensitive companies that disappointed in some way. McDonald’s is not going to have an easy time passing commodity inflation onto the end customer. Proctor & Gamble is also dealing with higher costs. Starbucks had to lower its outlook thanks to surging coffee prices.
Tech, meanwhile, has been mixed. Netflix and Apple posted blistering reports, however today we’re getting double-mediocreness from Microsoft and Amazon, the latter of which straight-up missed on the top line, and is tanking after hours.
Needless to say, what defines a “miss” is how the numbers come in relative to analyst expectations, and as PragCap observed last week, the expectations ratio — which is to say, the average number vs. expectations — has clearly compressed this season compared to previous ones.
Coupled with the fact that commodities have taken it on the chin — itself a demand warning — it’s not hard to imagine the bulls thinking that with stocks still at their highs, it wouldn’t be a terrible time to lock some of those profits and lighten up. Oh, and the economic data has been pretty mixed lately. That doesn’t help.