Corporate America’s Excessive Optimism Could Cause Some Major Pain for Investors

Wow, bigwigs sitting in their cushy C-suite offices are sure feeling pretty darn upbeat about the rest of the year. 

They better deliver on the sales and profit fronts, or their stock prices are likely to head right down the drain. Points out Bank of America Merrill Lynch: 

“Guidance this earnings season has been stronger than expected: for the month of April, management guided above consensus 2.2x as much as below, the best monthly ratio since 2010 (and well-above the April average of 1.0). Month-to-date, guidance trends are still tracking above average, and the three-month ratio is now at its highest levels since 2004. While mentions of optimism on earnings calls have come down, mentions of “better” or “stronger” relative to “worse” or “weaker” continue to track above average.”

The interesting thing is that despite the optimism heard on first-quarter earnings calls, the major stock indices have remained stuck in a tight trading range. In fact, shares of big-name companies such as Caterpillar (CAT) and Boeing (BA) have received muted responses by the market to their strong starts to the year. 

This is a topic TheStreet touched on at length at its Investor Boot Camp  conference on Saturday. 

“Companies that beat on both have outperformed by 0.5 percentage point the next day, the third time in the last four quarters we’ve seen a sub-1 percentage point reward for beats, a late-cycle phenomenon,” says Bank of America Merrill Lynch. 

Optimism is the name of the game right now in Corporate America. Optimism is the name of the game right now in Corporate America.

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