Monday, February 11, 2013

$112 FY13 EPS Looks Like a Stretch

As companies continue to report, an unwelcomed truth has been uncovered. F13 EPS has been expected to top $112/share. This would represent 10% growth over FY12 EPS of $102.

There are two problems: first, FY12 will likely to be closer to $98-100. This is just 2-4% growth over FY11 ($96.4) - nowhere near 10% expected this year. Which brings us to the second problem: even if growth is again 2-4%, FY13 EPS will be $100 to $104.

Earnings expectations being 8% or more too high at a time when investor sentiment is at a bullish extreme is not a good combination.

Final point: 3Q12 EPS was lower than 2Q12, and 4Q12 is on pace to be lower than 3Q12. That's two consecutively lower EPS numbers. This has never happened outside of a recession.
The chart below shows actual (yellow line) EPS versus the $SPX since 1994. The red line is the FY13 forecast. That does not appear likely.

The chart is from the excellent site, Crossing Wall Street. I recommend bookmarking it.

Goldman (chart below) with over 80% of Q4 earnings season done, EPS is now expected to decline by 1% relative to Q4 2011. Consolidated EPS has dropped 8% since January 4. 

Factset uses slightly different EPS figures but it's clear that (1) EPS has not grown since 3Q 2011 and (2) the bullish FY13 forecast relies upon growth in 2H13. It's a hockey stick.