Jun 4, 2020 - Economy & Business

The stock market rally is ignoring cratering earnings per share estimates

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

In addition to largely ignoring economic data, the stock market's rally is defying cratering earnings per share estimates.

By the numbers: During the first five months of 2020 the bottom-up earnings per share estimate for S&P 500 companies — an aggregation of the median 2020 EPS estimates for all the companies in the index from FactSet — has fallen by 28% (to $128.03 from $177.82).

  • That's the lowest EPS estimates have been in the history of FactSet's data, which goes back to 1992.
  • During the past five years, the average decline in the annual EPS estimate during the first five months of a year has been 1.3%, and for the past 20 years, the average decline for the first five months of a year has been 2.4%.

What's happening: "The market is broken," Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM International, said in an interview with CNN Business.

  • "It no longer reflects a forward outlook that is truly aligned in the real economy," he said. "That's a problem because, at some point, the public will say these markets are rigged."

On the other side: Barry Knapp, managing partner at Ironsides Macroeconomics, argues that valuations are simply useless in the current climate.

  • “It’s the beginning of a new business cycle. You shouldn’t get all beared up, and you’re not supposed to focus on valuations," he told CNBC. "This is the early stage of the business cycle."

Go deeper: Pandemic and protests can't stop the stock market

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