Martin Sosnoff, writing in Forbes.com today, offers one of the most comprehensive, clear-minded takes on the U.S. economy in 2009. He’s not bullish on tech stocks – yet – but he is cheerleading the biotechnology sector, which could offer investors some significant upside in a year where profits will come at a premium.
Here’s his capsule review of key economic indicators for this year:
“At year end, the consensus for the economy and financial markets riffled into conformity. It is a mixed bag, both bullish and bearish, which means its value is probably zero. Bearish on the first half and seeing recovery in the backstretch is wish fulfillment. Too simplistic.”
“The baddies: First-quarter gross domestic product down 3% to 4%, but recovering to -1% in quarter two. Capital spending weakens for several quarters. The dollar drops another 10% on our rock-bottom Treasury bond yields across the maturity spectrum. Commodities markets strengthen. The unemployment rate reaches 8.2% with the federal deficit a shuddering $1.5 trillion.”
“The forecast by pundits covering the stock market is more convoluted than economists' music sheets. Meanwhile, analysts covering specific sectors of the market need to catch up by revising earnings projections downward. Top-down strategists see earnings for the S&P 500 Index falling to approximately $60. From peak earnings power in 2007 of about $85, this is a healthy cut with which I agree.”
Elsewhere tech stocks are off with one exception – Apple – which saw its stock rise $3 to $94 per share after CEO Steve Jobs did what many thought he should have done months ago and go public over his alleged health problems.
Investors don’t realize it, and maybe Jobs didn’t either, but stability at the helm is a big factor in a company’s stock price. Wall Street doesn’t like surprises so rumors about Jobs’ health may have held Apple’s stock back more than necessary.
It turns out that Jobs is basically fine. He has a hormonal balance that is easily treated and the 54-year-old CEO says he has no intention of leaving Apple. In a letter to shareholders, Jobs wrote, “"A hormone imbalance ... has been 'robbing' me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy. Sophisticated blood tests have confirmed this diagnosis. The remedy for this nutritional problem is relatively simple and straightforward, and I've already begun treatment."
He added, "Just like I didn't lose this much weight and body mass in a week or a month, my doctors expect it will take me until late this Spring to regain it."
Number one, I am happy for Jobs and his family. Second, the news should help Apple’s stock price. Jobs is a pancreatic cancer survivor so coming clean on the hormonal issue will help clarify Apple’s leadership picture going forward.
Going public was a good move for both Steve Jobs and Apple. Like most investors, I just wish he’d done so sooner.