Weekly Market Commentary | Week of January 6, 2014

posted 1/10/2014 in Investments


The stock market should again welcome this earnings season for three key reasons: stronger
guidance, dividend increases, and better international results.

The Stock Market's Favorite Season

Sure, the holiday season is over, but it is still the stock market's favorite season.

This week starts the earnings reporting season -- the start of which is traditionally marked by the
earnings report from Alcoa, no longer a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, but still a
well-known company. Alcoa's report on Thursday, January 9, 2014 is joined late this week by reports from retailers Bed Bath & Beyond and Family Dollar.

The earnings season tends to be a good period for stock market performance. Stocks posted gains
during the six-week period that runs from two weeks before to four weeks after Alcoa reports since the bull market began around the start of the second quarter of 2009. In fact, nearly 80% of rise in the S&P 500 Index since the second quarter of 2009 took place during these quarterly earnings periods. Moreover, since the end of 2009, the entire gain in the index came during those quarterly periods, leaving nothing on average but volatility during the other seven weeks of every quarter.

Will the stock market again welcome the news this earnings season? It should for three key reasons:

  1. Stronger Guidance. We expect businesses to support their earnings outlook by citing the improving trend in economic data and the improved visibility now that the worst of the political brinkmanship is likely behind us. This should help boost business leaders' confidence in future earnings growth and help to improve the outlook for future quarters. Most notably, the widely followed Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Purchasing Managers' Index has a solid track record forecasting earnings growth in coming quarters, as you can see in Figure 1. The latest reading, reported last week, confirms this indicator is suggesting a rebound in earnings and revenues in the quarters ahead.1. 
  2. Dividend Increases. Historically, the first few months of the year tend to be the biggest months for dividend increases. Increasing dividends helped to lift stocks in the first quarter of last year. In 2013's first quarter, the S&P 500 Dividend Achievers Index, which measures the performance of companies that consistently raise their dividends, led the overall S&P 500 Index higher, outperforming by 2%. S&P 500 dividends have risen at a double-digit pace over the past year and are now about 30% above their 2008 peak. As investors seek yield in a rising rate environment, businesses are increasingly returning their strong cash flow to shareholders. We may see sizable dividend increases, especially after last year's strong price run-up effectively lowered yields.
  3. Better International Results. About 40% of S&P 500 corporate profits are derived from global sources. U.S. companies have seen gains in export orders and economic growth in the Eurozone is expected by the consensus of economists to have been 0.4% in the fourth quarter, the fastest pace since the second quarter of 2011. This may result in better international revenue for U.S. businesses.

The consensus of Wall Street analysts' estimates is for an overall pace of about 7-8% earnings per
share (EPS) growth for S&P 500 companies. Given the history of earnings results during the
reporting season, companies may beat the estimates by 2-3%. If realized, the 9-10% pace of earnings growth would be the fastest in two years.
We expect 3-4% global gross domestic product (GDP) growth and inflation of 1-2% in 2014 to drive
sales growth for S&P 500 companies of about 5%. In conjunction with the benefit of ongoing
buybacks and profit margin expansion, we expect EPS growth of 5-10% in 2014. A strong fourth
quarter would be a great start to 2014, where we expect earnings growth to accelerate from a pace of around 5% for most of 2013. This pace of earnings growth, along with a slight rise in the
price-to-earnings ratio, should help to drive 10-15% returns for the S&P 500 in 2014.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to
provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. All performance reference is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges.

Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. Past performance is no
guarantee of future results.

The economic forecasts set forth in the presentation may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.

Stock and mutual fund investing involves risk including loss of principal.The company name(s) mentioned herein was for educational purposes only and was not a recommendation to buy or sell that company nor an endorsement for their product or service.

Earnings per share (EPS) is the portion of a company's profit allocated to each outstanding share
of common stock. EPS serves as an indicator of a company's profitability. Earnings per share is
generally considered to be the single most important variable in determining a share's price. It is
also a major component used to calculate the price-to-earnings valuation ratio.

The P/E ratio (price-to-earnings ratio) is a measure of the price paid for a share relative to the
annual net income or profit earned by the firm per share. It is a financial ratio used for valuation:
a higher P/E ratio means that investors are paying more for each unit of net income, so the stock is more expensive compared to one with lower P/E ratio.


The Standard & Poor's 500 Index is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks designed to
measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market
value of 500 stocks representing all major industries.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) index is based on surveys of more than 300
manufacturing firms by the Institute of Supply Management. The ISM Manufacturing Index
monitors employment, production inventories, new orders, and supplier deliveries. A composite
diffusion index is created that monitors conditions in national manufacturing based on the data
from these surveys.

Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) is an indicator of the economic health of the manufacturing
sector. The PMI index is based on five major indicators: new orders, inventory levels, production,
supplier deliveries and the employment environment.

This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial.

To the extent you are receiving investment advice from a separately registered independent
investment advisor, please note that LPL Financial is not an affiliate of and makes no
representation with respect to such entity.

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Tracking #1-234196 (Exp. 01/14)
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.
The financial consultants of Wealth Management are registered representatives with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC. Insurance products offered through LPL Financial or its licensed affiliates.
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