E The Earnings Season And Fashions

Thursday after the market closed the US earnings season began. Among the early reporters is Alcoa, which your editor owns shares in. A college economist friend who later married a Frenchman, making her, like me, the wife of a European, used to sit on the AA board, why I own the share. We were neighbors with her parents-in-law in Brussels and I studied French with her sister-in-law. Judy has since retired but I kept the stock.

Looking at the Paris fashion shows I think designers are not only going in for handicrafts, a dash of pre-technology out of sync with how we now live, but that the bobbles and laces, bells and tchotches on the latest garments are also overly cute and likely to get in the way of their wearers’ lifestyle, even if they are trophy wives well away from the world of work. Back-to-barefoot peasantry is fine in party dresses for little girls  (under 7 before they know better) but not for their mamas or grandmas!

The IMF published figures before its Peru summit meeting stating that emerging markets debt is so high at $3 trillion that the result may be global economic turmoil stalling global recovery. This could lead to fire sales and volatility, according to the IMF economists.

However the numbers are misleading. While cheap credit has risks, the emerging markets have some ways to repay their debt. One fund flow left out by the IMF is the hundreds of millions of annual remittances sent home by emerging market expatriate workers. This money feeds into their homeland economies and also can be converted to repay the annual bite.

The reason the IMF leaves out remittances is that it is in the business of organizing foreign aid, which is dwarfed by worker payments according to The Economist.

There is a link between hemlines and economic outlook, but the problem is nobody knows which way it now goes. My own view is that fashion switching gears is as much a sign of desperation as of creativity, requiring wardrobe spending for fashionistas, among whom I do not number myself. The last time I was up on the trends was when I wore a size 6X and my daddy worked in a children’s dress company (children did not include boys.) That was when garments were made in the South or in Mexico, not in China.

More  follows from Canada, Germany, Britain, India, Russia, The Netherlands, Israel, Ireland, Colombia, Mexico, and China.

• I bought more Agrium yesterday despite worries about its Australian business which is on the block (not sold as I mistakenly wrote). Down Under is a key site for AGU sales, along with the Americas and Egypt.

Unlike troubled POT (Potash of Saskatchewan), AGU sells all 3 major plant foods: nitrogen, phosphates, and potash, plus specialty fertilizers and controlled-release plant foods.

Earnings are growing faster than Iowa corn, expected to reach US$7.05 this year after hitting only $5.92 last year, up about 19%. The pe ratio is similarly at 19x earnings. If analysts are right its US$-denominated earnings should rise even faster, so its forward p/e ratio is only 15x earnings.

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Author: Travis Esquivel

Travis Esquivel is an engineer, passionate soccer player and full-time dad. He enjoys writing about innovation and technology from time to time.

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