As if a tough quarterly earnings season isn’t enough, CEOs now have more reason to worry about delivering on growth targets, as the days of easy deals and inorganic growth paths seem to be ending.
1. $200 billion of deals blocked in Washington and no end in sight. After spending the last few weeks in Washington, it’s clear that analysts and pundits believe the only way to return to “the art of the deal” environment in the short term is to vote Republican. If Hillary Clinton wins the presidential election, she may have to make some hard choices to extend President Obama’s tough stance on the environment and tax policy, at least for the first few years of her presidency, to satisfy her base of support. We would likely see more blocked deals (she recently called inversions, “perversions”), a continued tough stance on climate change and far fewer Wall Street bigwigs taking administration posts than originally thought. A Clinton presidency might only build upon the “new normal” in hyper legislation and regulation.
2. Investors are starting to see through the practice of using share repurchases and pro forma reporting to boost performance metrics. A recent study by ISI/Evercore shows that companies with big gaps between pro forma and actual GAAP numbers make for poor performing stocks; they tend to underperform in the months that follow the financial announcements, and the underperformance is worse for companies with high levels of debt. It also turns out that share repurchase programs don’t bode well for stock prices either. New research by Corequity shows that stock returns for companies with large share repurchase programs lag their relative indices and increasingly mask management’s challenge in finding investments that deliver appropriate risk-adjusted returns.
3. And for those CEOs looking forward to a detoxing long weekend drive in Tesla’s new Model X, Consumer Reports panned it this week. They report problems with the iconic falcon wing doors and major windshield distortion.