The S&P 500 is roughly halfway through earnings season with 237 companies having reported. It has been a very strong period so far with 79% of companies beating expectations vs an average 73% over the last 10 years. Earnings are on track for double-digit growth once again and this should be a bullish catalyst for the market in the second half of the year. As we discussed in our last quarterly webcast for clients, reported earnings continue to accelerate and we view this as extremely positive for the stock market. Here is the chart from our call:
I recently watched the Netflix documentary "Tony Robbins: I Am Not your Guru" and it is an inspiring film that makes you want to change your life for the better. If you haven't watched it, I highly recommend it. While Robbins is known for his life coaching, he found that the American public needed to become better educated about their investments and especially their relationship to financial advisers. This year he released his latest book, "Unshakable: Your Financial Freedom Playbook" based on interviews with some of the titans in finance like Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates and Vanguard legend Jack Bogle.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that President Trump is considering renominating Janet Yellen as Fed Chair but also views his economic adviser Gary Cohn as a top candidate. The president has changed his tune since the election season when he criticized Yellen repeatedly. Now he says that he thinks she is doing a good job and has "a lot of respect for her." Cohn would represent a dramatic shift away from an academic led Fed to a savvy business leader in Cohn who had a 26 year career at Goldman Sachs.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revised its China's GDP growth forecast for 2017 and 2018 to 6.7% and 6.4% respectively. This is up from an upgrade made in April to 6.6% and 6.2%. China's growth is expected to continue to be a key driver for a firming recovery of the global economy.
Back in 1999, I was covering technology IPOs for CREF Investments. The theme was that brick and mortar stores were going to be crushed by online retailers. All you needed was eyeballs on your website and your stock would go up 10% per day. It was a crazy time. The theme would turn out to be a good one but way too early and most of the companies that I saw during that period are now bankrupt.
As the father of a 5-year-old, I worry about the cost of college and I'm sure many parents of young children do. Prices at my alma mater, the University of Richmond, have risen close to 200% since I graduated in 1997. Has the quality of education also improved by that much? It's doubtful. While amongst friends, we laugh uncomfortably at the thought of million dollar tuitions, but one wonders if there has to be a breaking point where people just turn their backs on higher education. At what point is it unaffordable?
I'm out on the West Coast this week for a series of business meetings, and I brought a book. Call me old school. Putting in earplugs and settling in with a good book is a great way to fly, a welcome break from the usual screen time, and it conserves my iPhone battery. Sure, the seats are cramped, lousy food costs extra, and flight delays are routine. Yet, the earplugs block out the noise in the sky. And being 35,000 feet up for several hours, without internet, blocks out the noise below.
I remember visiting Vegas as a teenager. My family stayed at the Excalibur Hotel and there was a lot of entertainment for kids with arcades and kid friendly games. We waited in line for the $1.99 steak buffet dinners. Parking was always free. Fast forward to 2017 and that Vegas is long gone and today's Vegas is much more flashy and expensive. The cheap buffets have been replaced by celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay, Mario Batali and Thomas Keller. You can easily drop $50 just on lunch. Maybe I haven't looked very hard but I don't see any video arcades anymore. It is now all grown up entertainment from magicians to Celine Dion to Britney Spears to Jerry Seinfeld. And lots of people walking around with giant alcoholic beverages. This is the first time that I was hit with a mandatory $35 resort fee for wifi and not sure what else. And even free parking is gone. The casinos finally figured out that they could be collecting millions of dollars instead of giving it away - kind of feels like how the airlines charge for every little thing and it adds up fast.
Yesterday the White House highlighted a "Made in America" product showcase. Each state had a company represented and of course, I had to check out NJ since that's my home state - it was Campbell Soup Co. who offered tomato soup samples to government officials. Here is a full list so you can see what your state had to offer:
This year, emerging markets have run ahead of the S&P 500 after years of underperformance. Thanks to a declining dollar and continued monthly inflows, emerging markets have been a shining star in the 1st half of the year. Now the question is: will the trend continue? Let's take a quick look at a couple of charts.
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