Mark Hulbert on CNBC

Kudos to CNBC for their guest selection this morn:

My colleague Tony Dwyer was on, discussing his expectations for 12% or so growth. Tony notes that this makes him an outlier — one of the more bullish strategists on Wall Street, which is somewhat ironic. He and I have discussed the 2nd derivative of earnings — the change in year over year SPX earnings growth % — which he disses, but TD otherwise did a fine job.

Later in the show, Mark Hulbert came on, to discuss (by coincidence or clever counter-programming?)  year over year SPX earnings growth %.

Note that we have covered this fairly extensively, most recently here (How to Use Earnings as a Buy Signal) and here (Earnings and Subsequent Market Gains).

I agree with the thesis, which was put forth by MIT and Rochester profs, validated by Ned Davis Research, and reported by Hulbert — but not neccessarily the reasoning.

Why? The academics look to weak earnings as an eventual spur to interest rate cuts; I prefer to think in terms of sentiment

"The key to this lies with psychology: Perception versus reality. When year-over-year earnings % improves from awful to merely bad, the headlines [will still be] extremely negative. But this is the earliest part of any recovery, and no one — at least, almost no one — [will have yet] recognized the changing character of the economic cycle. Hence, even though the mood is palpably morose, that’s when you gotta buy ’em: Not only when everyone hates ’em, but when we see quantititative proof of the cycle turning."

I still think that’s the right explanation; But if you go back and test the quant data (as NDR did), the reason doesn’t really matter. Consider interest rate cuts as a reflection of a very specific sentiment — the Fed’s worries — which may be the ultimate sentiment indicator in the market.

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  1. commented on Mar 2

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the rate of change of acceleration the third derivative? Here’s what I found.

    It is well known that the first derivative of position (symbol x) with respect to time is velocity (symbol v) and the second is acceleration (symbol a). It is a little less well known that the third derivative, i.e. the rate of change of acceleration, is technically known as jerk (symbol j).

  2. Barry Ritholtz commented on Mar 2

    In Physics, or Finance? I’m not sure which is most applicable to the formula, but you may be right in Physics.

    In finance, there is the change in earnings, and then the % change on a Y-Y basis . . . that looks like a 2nd derivative to me . . .

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