Investor chatter continued regarding a video titled “Danger Ahead,” produced by legendary activist investor Carl Icahn.
As presented by Scott Wapner, Icahn warns, “The earnings that are being put out today, they’re very suspect.” He complained that some stocks are selling at 30 times earnings but “have no net worth, because they keep buying back stock.”
As presented by analysts, Icahn says, “If earnings go up for the quarter, your stock goes jumping up.”
This writer refers to earnings as presented by sell-side analysts, particularly for financial stocks, as “yearnings,” and the presentations often include references to non-GAAP indicators like “EBITDA” that were hallmarks of the dotbomb era.
Stocks will often be touted as having beaten estimates by a penny, once the estimates have been managed downward.
Hopefully investors bear in mind that these are sell-side estimates and that accounting is not precise to the penny because of all the judgment that is involved.
All the auditors claim is that the financial statements present the company’s condition fairly.
Icahn complained further that Congress is “dysfunctional,” and he lamented that it has been unable to produce a compromise on legislation to reward companies that repatriate earnings.
Readers may recall that the administration recruited an expert named Jeffrey Zients to head the National Economic Council and advise the president on these matters.
In interviews he showed an appreciation for the value of making some headway on business taxes. Perhaps his efforts will bear fruit one day, although the closer the election gets, the more difficult this will be.
In response to Bill Griffeth as to why Icahn made the video, Wapner said Icahn has been warning about high-yield securities for some time and “thought more people should have spoken out in 2008 about the perceived problems then, and then maybe we wouldn’t have gotten into the financial crisis or the Great Recession.”
This writer was not blogging in 2006 but warned of the financial crisis in May of that year based on the appointment of Henry Paulson as Treasury Secretary and the fact that all of the “landmark” legislation enacted to deal with previous crises had fizzled.
Especially hapless are the so-called financial regulators. Sometimes it seems that the only people who can work for these agencies are those who can only see blue sky for the TBTF banks.
Equally distressing is that the official narrative of the financial crisis holds that Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke stampeded Congress into bailing out the banks by telling them that there would be no economy left if they didn’t act immediately.
Evidently Dodd, Frank, and Republicans had no independent assessment of the situation with which to fend off the demands of the former CEO of Goldman Sachs.
The video clip can be found here.
TIME’s “25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis” can be found here.
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