Q4 Earnings Preview: Pessimism May Be Overdone

by Brian Ormord on
Fourth quarter earnings season is underway and probably won’t bring much good news. Lackluster global growth, ongoing profit margin pressures from inflation, and negative currency impacts are likely to translate into a year-over-year decline in S&P 500 Index earnings for the quarter. As always, guidance matters more as market participants look forward. The key question coming into this earnings season is whether the pessimism surrounding 2023 earnings has gone too far.
We believe accountability and modesty are among the keys to success in this business. In striving for those qualities, LPL Research has a tradition of starting off a new year with a lessons learned commentary. We got some things wrong last year, no doubt. But those who don’t learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them. Here are some of our lessons learned from 2022. As you might imagine, inflation and the Federal Reserve are common themes throughout.
2022 was a dizzying year as markets and the global economy continued to find itself out of balance due to the still present aftereffects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the policy response to it. If 2022 was about recognizing imbalances that had built in the economy and starting to address them, we believe 2023 will be about setting ourselves up for what comes next as the economy and markets find their way back to steadier ground. The process of finding balance may continue to be challenging and we may even see a recession, but underlying fundamentals could create opportunities in stock and bond markets that were difficult to find in 2022.
The Federal Reserve (Fed) wrapped up its last Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting of the year last week, where it hiked short-term interest rates for the seventh time in as many meetings, taking the fed funds rate to 4.5% (upper bound). A day later, both the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of England (BoE) also hiked interest rates, taking their respective policy rates to the highest levels since 2008. Over 90% of central banks have hiked interest rates this year, making the (mostly) global coordinated effort unprecedented. The good news? We think we’re close to the end of these rate hiking cycles, which could lessen the headwind we’ve seen on global financial markets this year.
Despite the S&P 500 Index starting December with five consecutive days of losses, we think December is down but not out. December often starts slow but historically has been a strong month. There are also some potentially supportive seasonal patterns ahead, such as the Santa Claus Rally, the outlook for January following down years, and the third year of the presidential cycle. ‘Tis the season, and this week LPL Research looks at some important seasonal patterns as the year winds down.
Economic and corporate data support the initial strong reads on holiday retail sales despite the macro headwinds, reinforcing the idea that today’s consumer is in a better position than usual at this point in the business cycle. However, consumers were likely tapping into credit and using savings to support spending. In this week’s Weekly Market Commentary we share insights on publicly traded retailers, analyze their underperformance year to date, and look forward to 2023.
Recent inflation data has tempered expectations for future Federal Reserve tightening, including a potential peak in the terminal rate near 5.0% in May or June of 2023. While the market has welcomed this news, history suggests the path to a Fed pivot could be volatile for stocks due to elevated inflation and interest rate risk. In this week’s Weekly Market Commentary, we explore historical equity and fixed income market performance surrounding a Fed pivot, including the prospect for solid stock performance in the back half of 2023.

Inflation and Rising Rates Supports Value

by Brian Ormord on
The growth vs. value debate has been pretty one-sided in 2022, with value outperforming growth for a sustained period for the first time in almost 15 years. However, the debate is heating up as investors begin to consider whether the pendulum will swing back to growth if inflation and interest rates decline in 2023. In this week’s Weekly Market Commentary we look at the factors driving value’s 2022 outperformance, the technical trading setup for growth and value, and what to look for in the coming months.