Certain About Nothing

Michael Panzner
updated | Author's Website

In “US Corporates Shy to Offer Guidance,” the Financial Times reports that those who are at the economy’s front lines have a less than clear vision of where things are headed:

US companies are more uncertain about the future than at any point since the financial crisis, with just one in five of the country’s biggest corporations making any predictions as they published fourth-quarter results.

“We’re seeing a marked reluctance from companies to be concrete in their forecasts,” said Christine Short at data provider Standard & Poor’s Capital IQ. “When companies have talked about prospects for 2012, they have tended to make generic comments, which could apply to any company in any sector.”

Some 410 companies in the S&P 500 index have reported results so far and just 86 of them offered an earnings per share forecast for the first quarter of 2012. That is on track to be the lowest number since the third quarter of 2009, when companies were still weighing up the impact of the financial crisis.

And yet, those whose view of reality comes largely by way of Excel spreadsheets, Bubblevision, and Wall Street watering holes appear to be exceptionally confident about the outlook, as Business Insider reveals in “All Of The Stock Market Sentiment Indicators Combined Into One Index” [italics mine]:

There are various measures of sentiment that stock market watchers follow. RBC [Capital] blended six of the biggest ones to form one comprehensive market sentiment indicator.  It consists of the 1) CBOE put-to-call ratio, which is currently neutral; 2) the American Association of Individual Investors Bull ratio, which is bullish; 3) the Investors Intelligence Bullish Ratios, which is neutral; 4) the National Association of Active Investment Managers Survey of Manager Sentiment, which reflects extreme optimism; 5) the NYSE New High to New Low ratio, which reflects extreme bullishness and 5) the CBOE Volatility Index, which is neutral relative to long run averages.
 
According to RBC’s aggregation of the sentiment readings, the stock markets reflect extreme optimism.

Of course, they don’t call that latter group the “smart money” for nothing — right?

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