Stocks balloon, we’re incessantly told, because revenues are rising due to great products, ingenious strategies, or brilliant marketing; and because earnings are rising due to, well, if not rising revenues, then cost cutting, moving production overseas, squeezing suppliers…. But what if revenues sag and earnings plunge, not for a bad-hair quarter, but for years, and the stock still balloons?
I’m not picking on IBM. I’m almost sure they have some decent products. So they had a crummy quarter – the sixth quarter in a row of sales declines. And their hardware sales in China have collapsed since Snowden’s revelations about the NSA and its collaboration with American tech companies. But in one area, IBM excels: its hocus-pocus machine.
The first shot was fired on Monday. Teradata, which sells analytics tools for Big Data, warned that revenues plunged 21% in Asia. Wednesday, it was IBM’s turn to confess: hardware sales in China had collapsed. Every word was colored by Snowden’s revelations about NSA’s collaboration with American tech companies, from startups to mastodons like IBM.
“The company could disappear,” said Alcatel-Lucent CEO Michel Combes, not exactly the kind of wondrous hype CEOs normally sputter to bamboozle people into plowing their money into the company’s stock. The end, after two decades of ingenious Wall-Street engineering, fee extraction, fanciful accounting, executive wisdom, and brilliant strategic thinking.
The amount in Federal assistance received by families of workers in the fast-food industry, who’re dogged by low wages, part-time work, and scarce employer-provided health benefits, amounted to $7 billion per year. A way for the $200 billion industry to shuffle off part of the costs of doing business to the hapless taxpayer.
They’re getting hilarious, the shenanigans on Wall Street. Revenues have been lousy all year, and despite feverish cost cutting, earnings are sliding. The third quarter has been over for almost two weeks, but Q3 earnings estimates are still being pushed down. A lot! So that companies can “exceed expectations.” They’re now at stagnation levels. And stocks soar.
Alarm bells went off: “Yellen props stocks,” the headline read. Somebody needs to. Politicians are actively contemplating how to most effectively send the largest and brokest debtor in history into default. Corporate revenues can’t keep up with inflation. Earnings estimates and actual earnings growth plunge. And the S&P 500 soared 16% year to date.
Apple has become a legal juggernaut. It’s taking on everyone and everything for presumed violations of its patents and trademarks. Billions are at stake. Its bitten-into-apple logo is sacred. The color red is sacred. So are red apples of any kind, apparently. Then it tried to squash a cafe in Germany, owned by a stubborn entrepreneur with a vision.
Supercar-makers Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Rolls-Royce are reacting to the forces whacking global markets for luxury products: a corruption crackdown in China, Abenomics in Japan, and the Fed’s money-printing in the US. The idea that sales in China, which is printing billionaires by the dozens, are crashing is a hard-to-swallow concept for the industry.
“This sort of political brinkmanship is the dominant reason the rating is no longer ‘AAA,’” S&P ratings agency wrote in a research note. More ominously, it warned that if Congress failed to pass a debt-ceiling hike before the out-of-money date in mid-October, it would cut the U.S. to “selective default.” And then there would be the post-default era.