John Mauldin has an excellent piece this week in his Thoughts From The Frontline series entitled The Swiss Start Their Engines. For those who haven’t followed John’s weekly writings, he is a conservative of the old school, who holds a pretty consistant view that we are in a Muddle Through clip of time.
We’ll quote a few paragraphs, then send you to the site link to make it easy to see the graphs that he has with the essay.
This week we look at the Land of the Rising Sun. Japan is going through major upheavals, and they will have consequences all over the world. And what are those wild and crazy Swiss central bankers up to? It’s time for another round of competitive devaluation. And of course I have to look at the recent Barron’s cover story, about how stocks are cheap. There’s a lot to cover.
Where Have My Earnings Gone?
Barron’s probably jinxed the stock market by stating why they think the Dow won’t fall to 5000, although we do have what I hope is the start of a nice bear market rally. Part of their reasoning is that stocks are cheap. They assign a price to earnings (P/E) ratio of a lowly 13, based upon 2009 estimated earnings of $51 in operating profits, which they suggest is historically low. And I agree that 13 is toward the low end and would represent a good long-term buying opportunity – if indeed it was 13.
Actually, if you want to get really bullish, go to S&P’s web site and look at their estimated earnings for 2009. They calculate a P/E of 10.89 on 2009 estimated operating earnings.
As I have written over the years, the long-term P/E studies all use “as-reported” earnings, or earnings that are reported on tax returns. Operating earnings are of the EBBS variety, or Earnings Before Bad Stuff (or whatever you want to designate as the BS component). Companies like to tell us to ignore all those “one-time” writedowns, which seem to happen a lot more than once these days.
Click the link for the balance of The Swiss Start Their Engines.