US corporate earnings were down a record 89% in Q1 versus the previous 12 months at just $7. Q2 saw only a minor improvement with earnings at only $8. Its interesting, therefore, to see market expectations for 2010.
The chart is based on S&P analyst forecasts, and shows “reported earnings” (red line) are expected to recover to c$45 in 2010 as restocking continues. But this would still only take them back to 2003 levels.
Unsurprisingly, therefore, analysts are choosing to focus on “operating earnings” (blue line) which, as the blog discussed last month, exclude many negative items that have to appear in “reported earnings” under GAAP accounting standards.
This discrepancy featured in the 2000-2 downturn, but was not seen in the 1990-4 downturn. It thus usefully highlights the wide gap between those expecting a quick V-shaped recovery now restocking is underway, and those who (like the blog) fear a more prolonged U-/W-shape will develop.