This is the web version of the Bull Sheet, Fortune’s no-BS daily newsletter on the markets. Sign up to receive it in your inbox here.
Good morning, and welcome back!
After a weak showing last week, U.S. futures and global stocks are moving higher this morning as we head into a busy stretch for corporate earnings. Below, I offer a primer on what to look for. Oh, and Postscript is back. Reader warning: it involves food.
But first, let’s see what’s moving markets.
- The major Asia indexes are mixed in afternoon trading with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng up 2.7%.
- China’s economy grew 2.3% last year, helped by a strong Q4 surge. China is now on pace to overtake the United States as the world’s biggest economy by 2026, Fortune‘s Naomi Xu Elegant reports.
- The World Economic Forum is out with its annual risks report, and the 2021 version makes for tough reading. What could be on tap in the years to come? A bleak youth precariat and state collapse (along with the usual doom-and-gloom about the climate crisis).
- The European bourses were broadly higher in early trading with the Stoxx Europe 600 up 0.5% at the open.
- COVID-19 has left a €600 billion hole in the balance sheet of European companies, a prominent trade associate warns, an argument for Brussels to prepare yet another stimulus package.
- Shares in Stellantis, the newly merged Fiat-Peugeot alliance, officially started trading yesterday in Paris and Milan under the ticker, STLA. It closed nearly 8% higher on Monday. Auto stocks, meanwhile, were flat on Tuesday after data showed car sales fell last year by a record-breaking 24%.
- U.S. futures have been edging up all morning, with all three exchanges poised to start the week in the green.
- A recap: The Dow, S&P and Nasdaq all finished lower last week, the worst showing since October.
- Janet Yellen will testify today before the Senate Finance Committee (the same group that will cast a decisive vote on her Treasury Secretary candidacy), and the big question will be: just how much debt can the U.S. afford to rack up to get out of this economic crisis?
- On the earnings calendar today we have: Bank of America, Halliburton and Netflix, to name a few.
- Gold is up, trading around $1,840/ounce.
- The dollar is slightly lower.
- Crude is up a touch, with Brent trading around $55/barrel.
- Bitcoin is up 3.2% in the past 24 hours to $37,100, but trade has been choppy for the past 10 days.
This week and next make up the busiest stretch of earnings season. The last of the big banks report this week, and next week we get a wave of Big Tech results. In fact, firms representing more than half of the S&P 500 market cap will report between January 25 and February 5, Goldman Sachs calculates.
Throughout much of 2020, COVID-ravaged companies repeatedly threw in the towel and declined to give investors a full outlook. That won’t be tolerated this year.
Here’s what else you should be looking for.
The Q4 2020-to-Q4-2019 comparison will be brutal. Across the S&P 500, Goldman predicts, EPS is expected to have fallen by 11% (take energy out of the equation, and it’s merely bad—an EPS decline of 8% year-on-year.) But there will be some bottom-line winners from the likes of health care, IT and materials.
Looking forward, investors should focus on the full-year 2021 estimate, and compare that with the pre-pandemic full-year 2019 performance, Goldman advises. By that measure, the S&P looks a bit better going forward. The median company in the S&P is expected to post a 2019-21 EPS growth rate of +4%.
So, a return to growth is in the offing, which supports Goldman’s view that the benchmark S&P will climb to 4300 by year-end.
We’ll know soon enough if that’s plausible.
A longtime Bull Sheet reader sent me a note over the weekend with a simple request. The email subject line read, “Minestrone Soup.”
One of the most memorable “authentic” minestrone soup meals he’d ever had, he explained, was at a Roman pensione years ago. “Any chance,” he asked, “you could publicise a good recipe for same in your column?”
This, I knew, would be a job for Postscript. “Certainly,” I responded.
I have to admit, I thought this would be a simple task. That was before I fell down a rabbit hole of minestrone recipes. You see, Italian families live off minestrone soup from September to May. Come meal time, it’s a go-to primo. (A reminder: no Italian meal is complete without the trinity: primo-secondo-vino.)
Sitting in the kitchen on Sunday afternoon, I consulted two experts sources on the matter: the Cucina Italiana cookbook and Xtina, my wife. The Italians have countless recipes for minestrone; there are more than two dozen in the very first cookbook I picked up. The ingredients depend on the time of year, what’s in the garden/at the local farmer’s market, and what goes best with the pasta of choice for the soup, the minestra.
As my wife explained, Italians have real reverence for the minestrone as a primo. Just as your financial manager would never advise you load up your portfolio with nothing but growth stocks, Italians would never think of serving pastasciutta (or, dry pasta) at every meal. Besides, you can find a decent dish of pastasciutta anywhere in Italy. A good minestrone is harder to come by.
Here’s how we do the minestrone at Casa Warner:
We start with three humble vegetables: the potato, zucchine and carrot. In the autumn, we might substitute in zucca, or sweet pumpkin. In the autumn, it could be bieta, or chard.
The key, my wife stresses, is to start with a nice, simple sofrito. Pour in a bit of olive oil and diced onions (some suggest a laurel leaf; we don’t), and let them cook into a nice sweet, aromatic base. Then drop your cubed veg into the pot, adding a bit of water or broth as you go. (We stick with good old Roman tap water.) Oh, and don’t forget the salt. When the vegetables have cooked for a good hour, take a little hand blender and, zap, transform your floating, boiling veg into a thick broth. To give it more heft, go with more potatoes at the start. (White beans work great too, but that requires a bit more preparation.)
The next step: chuck in your minestra pasta, and serve with a dollop of olive oil and a coating of Parmigiano Reggiano.
Years ago, on a trip to Tuscany one frigid February weekend, I discovered the local dish, the ribollita. We make it a couple times each winter. It’s one of my favorites. As the name suggests, it gets better every time you re-heat it and ladle it into your bowl.
The ribollita calls for a much more involved recipe as you have to source pig bones to make the broth, plus a couple different types of cabbage. If you’re interested in that recipe, let me know.
Have a nice day, everyone. I’ll see you here tomorrow… Until then, there’s more news below.
As always, you can write to firstname.lastname@example.org or reply to this email with suggestions and feedback.
Credit: Source link