Jan 20, 2019

2019 earnings are off to a rocky start

Analysts were convinced that the last quarter of 2018 was going to be great for earnings — until, suddenly, at the end of the year, they weren't.

Data: FactSet; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The bottom line: The stock market's volatility at the end of 2018 was to a certain degree based in genuinely unexpected fourth-quarter weakness. And 2019 is getting off to a very rocky start. With expected earnings still at or near all-time highs, there's definitely a lot of room for them to be re-rated downwards.

  • JPMorgan is a good example. It had a record year in 2018, earning $32.5 billion in total. That shattered the previous record by some $8 billion. And yet its quarterly fixed-income trading revenue was its worst since the financial crisis.
  • Apple's earnings warning at the beginning of January was particularly noteworthy, and wiped some $2.5 billion off expectations for its quarterly earnings.

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The S&P 500 could be overvalued

The New York Stock Exchange on Jan. 8. Photo: Xinhua/Wang Ying via Getty Images

The S&P 500 is too rich on a number of levels, according to calculations in a new paper from Ned Davis Research that examines the index's price to earnings, profits and price to sales.

What's happening: Not only is the benchmark stock index's current P/E ratio "well above fair value," S&P companies' prices relative to sales is at a record high, “well in excess of what they were in 2000 or 2007 at those peaks,” Ned Davis, the company's senior investment strategist, says in a note to clients.

Go deeperArrowJan 9, 2020

AMD's hot 2020 start could lead to another S&P record

Data: Investing.com; Chart: Axios Visuals

AMD was the best-performing stock on the S&P 500 in both 2018 and 2019, and it got off to a hot start in 2020, rising 7.1% on Thursday to touch a fresh all-time high.

The state of play: The stock rose nearly 80% in 2018, despite falling 40% during that year's disastrous fourth quarter, and it gained 148% in 2019, according to MarketWatch. The company's previous record high stock price was set June 21, 2000.

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Middle East tensions could spark a big year for defense stocks

Data: Money.net; Chart: Axios Visuals

Defense sector stocks have predictably seen major buying since the killing of Iran Gen. Qasem Soleimani, in particular Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin.

Why it matters: The gains may not be temporary, analysts say.

Go deeperArrowJan 8, 2020