Individual companies can still thrill or chill their shareholders, but the cheering around Apple (AAPL) is loud enough to overcome what could’ve been a scary quarter. Earnings for the market as a whole have not gone over a cliff.
Thanks to Apple, the severe 6% earnings decline we were braced for it now looking more like a 2% dip . . . more like a stall. For context, Wall Street expected a 1.7% earnings drop in late 2019, right before the pandemic forced us to throw out all our year-to-year expectations.
That 1.7% earnings drop did not put any pressure on the stock market. Investors practically laughed it off or, a little more realistically, wrote it off as an isolated glitch in a solid long-term trend.
Back then, people had confidence in Corporate America. They knew all the managers running the S&P 500 could figure out a way to get the wheels turning in the right direction again.
And that’s where the numbers are now. Admittedly, we thought we were looking at an isolated glitch. Wall Street today is braced to see at least one more weak quarter before the fundamentals recover.
What happened then, of course, was a different story. The pandemic came as a shock. Earnings went over a cliff. And the Fed started handing out free money to keep the economy from freezing over.
Wall Street got giddy. That’s unlikely to happen this time around. Sudden shocks are generally scary . . . constructive change tends to unfold more cautiously.
But the giants have stopped declining. AAPL will probably show us at least a sliver of positive growth three months from now when it reports its numbers for the current quarter. Amazon (AMZN) and Microsoft (MSFT) are already moving the needle back in the bulls’ favor. Alphabet (GOOG) also looks a lot brighter now.
When the trillion-dollar titans are moving together in the right direction, there isn’t a lot they can’t achieve. And there isn’t a lot the rest of the market can do to get in their way.
Thanks to AAPL, the earnings recession is almost over. It wasn’t scary or apocalyptic. All we need now is a little confidence.