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    談上市公司的預期管理:盈利能超預期,往往因為預期太低

    Mary Romano 2019年05月08日

    似乎對于很多公司而言,盈利高于預期這不過是因為他們之前把預期定得太低。

    讓我們來聊聊預期管理。

    表面上看,第一季度企業收益激增。

    根據路孚特(Refinitiv)今天發布的數據,到目前為止,公布了第一季度業績的229家公司中有77%收益高于預期。

    從Facebook到星巴克再到亞馬遜,各行各業的公司本周公布的業績都超出了市場估計,讓投資者相信美國經濟運行良好。再加上美國經濟增長的數據——本季度增速快于預期,年化增長率達3.2%,標普500指數和納斯達克指數再創歷史新高似乎理所當然。

    但這些都是表象,而且似乎對于很多公司而言,盈利高于預期這不過是因為他們之前把預期定得太低,超過預期幾乎是板上釘釘的事情。雖然預期管理的做法從華爾街剛起步的時候就有了,但似乎現在各大公司都在鄭重其事地使用這種手段。這種盈利超過預期的情況,“到底是因為預期過低還是市場環境更好?你必須要回答問題”,TIAA銀行全球市場總裁克里斯·加夫尼說。

    去年第四季度股市大幅下挫,再加上全球經濟增長放緩、美國利率上調等可怕晦暗的市場前景,許多公司降低了對2019年的預期。“消極的導向和調整更加更引人注目,哪怕這不過是正常現象。”加夫尼說,“當時悲觀情緒嚴重,看不到太多的樂觀態度。”如果對一些利潤超出預期的公司進行深入研究,會發現結果本身沒看上去那么美好。

    高盛集團(Goldman Sachs Group Inc.)本月早些時候“擊敗了”對盈利的預測。但根據CNBC的數據,該公司收入下降了13%至88.1億美元,低于分析師預估的89億美元。CNBC表示,康卡斯特(Comcast)公司盈利也超過了華爾街的預測,但其收入為268.6億美元,低于路孚特調研中分析師預估的272億美元。

    哪怕是第一季度高高興興地“擊敗”了華爾街預估值的公司也不一定會感到樂觀。FactSet的數據顯示,第一季度,標普500指數公司中有79家公司發布了消極的收益指導,而2018年第四季度為71家。5年的平均數是74。美國銀行美林證券分析師的研究結果顯示,公司財報電話會議中提及“更好”或“更強”的次數與“更差”或“更弱”之間的差額是2016年第一季度以來的最低水平,而且“提及樂觀情緒的次數減少了”,這是個悲觀的跡象。

    不過,投資者似乎會把所有的驚喜都看得很重。總體而言,到第一季度末,摩根大通的分析師在一份報告中寫道,截至報告期末,標普500指數成分公司應該因為“利潤優于原先擔心的數值”收獲4%至5%的盈余驚喜以及2%至3%的利潤增長。

    以上種種,都是關于期望管理。(財富中文網)

    譯者:Agatha

    Talk about managing expectations.

    From the looks of it, corporate earnings surged in the first quarter.

    So far, 77 percent of the 229 companies that reported have posted better-than-expected earnings result, according to data by Refinitiv published today.

    Companies across industries–from Facebook Inc. to Starbucks Corp. to Amazon.com Inc.–posted results this week that beat estimates and gave investors confidence that the U.S. economy is in good shape. Taken together with today’s U.S. economic growth figure, which expanded at a faster pace in the quarter than expected, at a 3.2 percent annualized rate, it’s no wonder this week the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq touched record highs.

    But scratch the surface, and it appears that many of those earnings surprises were a result of companies managing expectations down so far that beating them was almost a certainty. Though this is a game as old as Wall Street itself, it’s being played in earnest right now. Are these earnings wins, “because of the lower expectations or a result of a better environment for companies? That’s the question you have to ask,” said Chris Gaffney, president of world markets at TIAA Bank.

    Many companies lowered expectations heading into 2019 after the stock market’s swoon in the fourth quarter and over fearful prospects of a global growth slowdown and higher U.S. interest rates. “The negative guidance and revisions were much more dramatic even though it’s such a normal occurrence,” said Gaffney. “There was a lot of pessimism and not a lot of optimism.” And dig deeper into a few companies that beat expectations, and the results themselves don’t look too rosy.

    Goldman Sachs Group Inc. earlier this month ‘beat’ estimates on earnings. But revenue dropped 13 percent to $8.81 billion, below analysts’ $8.9 billion estimate, according to CNBC. Comcast Corp. also surpassed Wall Street’s forecasts on earnings but posted revenue of $26.86 billion, lower than the $27.2 billion expected in a Refinitiv survey of analysts, CNBC said.

    And even companies that cheerfully ‘beat’ estimates in the first quarter weren’t necessarily feeling too upbeat. In the first quarter, 79 companies in the S&P 500 issued negative guidance versus 71 in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to FactSet data. The five-year average is 74 companies. And in a pessimistic sign, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts’ research showed that mentions of “better” or “stronger” versus “worse” or “weaker” on company calls were tracking the lowest since the first quarter of 2016, and “mentions of optimism have waned.”

    Still, investors seem to be heavily weighting any positive surprises. Overall, by the end of the first quarter, J.P. Morgan & Chase & Co. analysts wrote in a report that S&P 500 companies should post a 4 percent to 5 percent earnings surprise “on better than feared margins” and profit growth of 2 percent to 3 percent by the end of the reporting period.

    It’s all about managing those expectations.

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