Of Short Squeezes And Outsized Earnings Day Moves

It’s earnings season. Who’s excited?

Goldman, for one.

Last Friday, the bank suggested that it might be best to simply ignore Q4 earnings and focus on the outlook given distortions from the tax bill. “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed by President Trump on December 22, 2017 [and] as a result, companies are likely to take certain charges this quarter and the noisy 4Q results will muddy underlying company fundamentals,” Goldman wrote last week, adding that “many analysts may exclude these one-time charges from adjusted EPS [but] for companies only reporting GAAP EPS, the headline impact could be substantial.”

So you can take that for what it’s worth or for what it isn’t worth. As a reminder, consensus calls for S&P y/y EPS growth of 10% in Q4 – that’s up from 7% in Q3 and serves to support the narrative that the increasingly unhinged equity rally isn’t … well … isn’t entirely unhinged.

One thing to note when you think about whether earnings growth and the ongoing “recovery” (which, you’re reminded, is weak by historical standards) justifies the rally is that analysts are running out of ways to couch this in fundamental terms.

“Even if you were the bullest of the bulls, this crazy rally start to the year took you off guard,” Michael Antonelli, an institutional equity sales trader and managing director at Baird told Bloomberg on Friday. “We’ve completely run out of ways to describe what’s happening. We get asked a lot, are you seeing anything different that could explain the rally? The answer is no.”

Right. But not really. The “answer” is that investors have succumb to an acute case of FOMO that’s clouding their judgement and blinding them to the self-evident fact that the more you pay now, the lower your returns are likely to be going forward unless you’re willing to entertain the fantasy that this can go on in perpetuity.

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