Culver Capital Investment Banking

CEOs Most Optimistic on U.S. Profits in Bull Signal

November 08, 2010, 10:15 AM EST

By Lynn Thomasson and Whitney Kisling

Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) — More U.S. executives than ever are increasing earnings forecasts compared with those lowering them, helped by almost $2 trillion of Federal Reserve spending and a recovery in the global economy.

EBay Inc., United Parcel Service Inc. and 196 other companies raised profit estimates above analysts’ projections last month as 130 firms cut them, the biggest gap since Bloomberg began tracking the data in 1999. Shipping companies and computer makers boosted forecasts the most, pushing the Morgan Stanley Cyclical Index of businesses most tied to the economy up 27 percent from July 2 through Nov. 5. That beat the 20 percent rally in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Companies are raising the outlook for U.S. profits at the same time the Fed is trying to prevent deflation and reduce unemployment by purchasing an additional $600 billion in Treasuries. The last time executives were this optimistic, stocks climbed 39 percent over the next 3 1/2 years, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

“It’s important for the rally and for the general health of the market that investors continue to anticipate higher earnings,” said Dean Gulis, who manages $3 billion for Loomis Sayles & Co. in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. “That companies themselves are expecting better profits is very positive. As we see rising earnings, we’ll see improving stock prices.”

GDP Growth

About 1.5 U.S. companies boosted earnings estimates above analysts’ forecasts for each that cut projections in October. That’s about three times the average of 0.59 in the past 10 years, data tracked by Bloomberg show. The ratio fell to a record low of 0.1 in December 2008, three months after New York- based Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. filed for bankruptcy. When it reached 1.1 in March 2004, the S&P 500 rose from 1,126.21 to a record 1,565.15 in October 2007, Bloomberg data show.

The S&P 500 has gained about 200 points since falling to a 10-month low on July 2 after companies from Baltimore-based T. Rowe Price Group Inc. to Google Inc. in Mountain View, California, topped analysts’ estimates and investors speculated the Fed would act to boost growth. The benchmark measure of U.S. stocks rose 3.6 percent to 1,225.85 last week, the fifth- straight gain. The S&P 500 slipped 0.5 percent to 1,219.95 at 10:08 a.m. in New York.

Earnings at EBay, the owner of the second most-visited e- commerce site, are getting a boost as consumers make more purchases online and use its PayPal service to handle money transfers. The San Jose, California-based company forecast more fourth-quarter sales and earnings than analysts estimated on Oct. 20, spurring the biggest gain in the shares in nine months.

Credit Expansion

Consumer borrowing in the U.S. unexpectedly increased in September by the most in two years, led by a surge in non- revolving credit such as college loans and auto financing, the Federal Reserve said on Nov. 5. The report was released the same day the Labor Department said employers added 151,000 jobs in October, more than twice the median economist prediction.

“We have outperformed our expectations through the first three quarters of the year, and enter the holiday season with confidence in our payments business,” said Bob Swan, EBay’s chief financial officer, on a conference call following the earnings release. “From a business standpoint, our global footprint is expanding.”

Rising international demand for everything from transportation services to tobacco and power tools is helping drive profits at companies such as UPS, Philip Morris International Inc. and Danaher Corp. While forecasts for U.S. gross domestic product in 2011 have fallen to 2.4 percent from 2.9 percent in July, the biggest emerging markets are expected to expand at least twice as fast, based on economist estimates and International Monetary Fund forecasts compiled by Bloomberg.

Posted in: General Market Articles on November 8th by bweaver