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Earnings Season Continues; Bonds Decline

Market Digest – Week Ending 7/26

Mixed earnings results translated to a directionless market. Apple, Facebook, Ford and Starbucks exceeded expectations, while Amazon, Expedia and Zynga disappointed. The market got a boost Thursday after The Wall Street Journal reported that the policy-setting committee is likely to continue its monthly bond-buying program when it meets next week. Even so, bonds declined moderately for the week.

Weekly Returns:

S&P 500: 1,692 (+0.0%)

FTSE All-World ex-US: (+0.4%)

US 10 Year Treasury Yield: 2.55% (+0.07%)

Gold: $1,332 (+2.9%)

USD/EUR: $1.328 (+1.1%)

Major Events:                                                                                                                                                        

  • Monday – Sales of previously owned homes unexpectedly fell 1.2% in June due to tight supply and increasing mortgage rates.
  • Tuesday – Apple reported third-quarter profit and sales that beat analysts’ estimates.
  • Tuesday – Cisco announced it will buy cyber-security firm Sourcefire for $2.7 billion.
  • Wednesday – Ford reported a 19% profit increase, ahead of expectations.
  • Wednesday – Facebook announced sales and profit which exceeded expectations, driven by strong results in mobile advertising.
  • Thursday – The Wall Street Journal reported that the Federal Reserve’s policy-setting committee is likely to keep its monthly bond-buying program in place after it meets next week.
  • Thursday – US prosecutors filed criminal charges against SAC Capital for insider trading.
  • Friday – Consumer prices in Japan rose 0.4%, reducing speculation of increased stimulus.

Our Take:

With almost half of the S&P 500 (by weight) having reported, companies have beaten consensus earnings predictions by 3.7%. This is good, but is actually below recent historical averages because estimates tend to be conservative. This type of result is enough to support the market, but is insufficient to drive meaningful further gains on its own.

Apple and Facebook both posted strong results this week. Apple CEO Tim Cook alluded to the release of new products later this year and in 2014, but stopped short of any details. Meanwhile, 31 million iPhones were sold, proving wrong those who expected lower cost smart phones to erode Apple’s dominance. It’s lonely at the top, and being the hottest phone maker is almost as fickle as being the hottest pop singer. Apple stock is down 35% from its peak, but the company continues to execute impressively.

Facebook finally introduced a serious mobile ad platform this quarter, and it was a hit. Helped by low expectations, the stock jumped 30%. Our guess is revenues should accelerate nicely in the short term as more businesses discover and decide to utilize mobile ads on Facebook. However, this should no longer be a surprise to the market.

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