Profit Margins: The Epicenter of the Valuation Debate

Is this market overvalued… or have valuations actually reached a “new era”?

via Profit Margins: The Epicenter of the Valuation Debate.

It’s my opinion that a combination of increased availability of information (the internet), and falling wages and rates since the 80′s/90′s have pushed valuations to a new normal that is higher than historical norms would suggest. I do believe we will witness margin compression as wages and rates rise sometime in the future (sooner than later hopefully)… however, IMO, this would be a short-term issue that would self-correct as demand increases due to increased wages and yields. This would push revenue and earnings higher regardless of moderate margin compression.

Great read. Take a look when you can and share with your buddies.

What if I told you this bull was born in 2011?

Did everyone just re-write history by forgetting we had a 20% correction (i.e. end of a bull market) in the fall of 2011 on a intra-day basis? Granted, this was on the heels of a downgrade on US debt and mainly a politically driven drop… but it did happen, didn’t it? Maybe I was just drunk and that whole time frame is a distorted memory.

Food for thought for those of you who think this bull market is getting long in the tooth. If you decided not to forget about 2011, we’re really only approaching this run’s 3rd birthday. Considering this, if we go back to the “start” of this “new” bull market on October 3rd, 2011 (closing low during that period), we would say that the base for this latest run began at 1099.23 on the S&P 500. Let’s take a look at some data from S&P on the average annual returns of all Post-WWII bull markets to begin our new comparison:

Now, lets compare those average annual returns to what we have witnessed since our “new” 2011 bull market:

Using the historical averages of modern bull markets, we should expect the S&P to be somewhere around 1800 on October 3rd of this year. That would mean at Friday’s close we were actually overvalued by slightly more than 2%. Given today’s early gains we are actually even more overvalued. This would seem to support election year seasonality in the fact that we would need a sell-off or sideways trading for a decent period of time in order for the market to become overly attractive again. 

I would expect volatility to increase from here regardless of geopolitical events. We need a new catalyst to really send this thing higher when considering valuations, earnings growth, and potential for margin compression as wages rise. Long-term I remain very bullish on equities, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see 10-year yields fall back to 2.5% and equities suffer in the short-term.

 

 

real average hourly earnings

The depressing reason you’re about to get a raise

AlphaBet(a) Soup:

But will raises lead to better GDP gains, or simply margin compression for corps?

Originally posted on Fortune Finance: Hedge Funds, Markets, Mergers & Acquisitions, Private Equity, Venture Capital, Wall Street, Washington:

As employers stop considering the long-term unemployed, those still in the game have gained salary negotiating power.

FORTUNE — If it feels like you haven’t gotten a real raise in years, you’re not going crazy. The statistics back you up:

real average hourly earnings

This chart, from Doug Short, shows inflation-adjusted hourly earnings going back to 2006. Aside from a jump during the recession, which was the result of employers firing people and cutting back on their hours rather than giving actual raises, the average American hasn’t seen his pay go up substantially at all. And this trend more or less goes back to the dotcom bust of the early 2000s.

There are several reasons why the average American hasn’t seen a pay increase in years, but consistently high unemployment is at the top of that list. With so many people out of work, employers simply have no incentive to give raises…

View original 337 more words

Monday’s Goods

Howdy. Here’s a few things you should read today:

I definitely recommend reading the piece on Sir John Templeton. Anyone who has bought a mutual fund has probably at least heard of Franklin Templeton… but they probably know very little about the person who founded the company. 

Inflation, and Sentiment, and Wages… OH MY!?

With all the craziness going on it’s nice to see that things may be (and I want to emphasize “may be”) calming down as investors start to realize this probably isn’t the end of the world and rather a healthy drop in the market. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of things to worry about, but there also a few positives starting to show up that could help stabilize equities. Here’s a glimpse of what others are saying today:

Are Profit Margins at Risk?

With all of this talk about the economy improving and potential for rates moving higher, it got me thinking. What if we finally see higher inflation this year?

In order for this to happen, we would need to see economic activity pick up enough to require more hiring by companies. As competition in the labor market would theoretically heat up, wages would likely begin to rise, and this would create the kind of inflation we are looking for to really get our economy going. 

Don’t look now, but it appears these two “needs” for inflation may be coming to fruition:

  • Small Business Survey Upbeat (Dr. Ed)
    • “…the percent of firms expecting to increase employment rose to 6.3% in December. That may not seem like much, but it is the highest reading since October 2008. “
  • Empire State Manufacturing Activity indicates faster expansion (Calculated Risk)
    • “The general business conditions index rose ten points to 12.5, its highest level in more than a year. The new orders index climbed thirteen points to 11.0, a two-year high.”

Both of these signs bode well for the economy, but what about the market? If hiring and wages were both to pick-up, we would almost surely witness a compression of profit margins in the short term. Factor in tapering by the FED, higher yields which would be very attractive if the market loses momentum, and the ominous “warnings” throughout the market, could we actually be on the verge short-term pause or pullback in the market? How will investors respond to this new environment? Would they blindly sell on falling margins or instead turn their eyes to newly revived revenue growth from stronger consumer spending? 

Long-term, I think this is a great problem to have. However, there are a lot of “what-ifs” in the air at the moment in regards to the US equity market. Will we have a “regular” year which is up but witnesses a return of volatility and one or more 10%+ drops, or will we see a flat to down year as investors cope with compressed margins yet strengthening economic fundamentals? I remain very bullish over the long-term as we all should be, but I am becoming more cautiously bullish by the day in regards to the next 6-12 months.