The Spurious Math Of A Tax-Cut Rally

Authored by 720Global’s Michael Lebowitz via,

The term “priced in” is a phrase used frequently by Wall Street and the financial media. This expression is used to describe how much the price of stock or a market has accounted for an anticipated event. For example, consider a pharmaceutical stock that has risen 50% over the last few days on the prospects of getting regulatory approval for a new drug. If the collective “market” deems that the stock should increase a total of 100% if the drug is approved, then we can say the “market” has “priced in” a 50% chance the drug will be approved.

The term “market”, as used above, is vague. It is meant to represent the consensus view. Importantly to investors, it represents potential opportunity when an investor has a view that differs from the consensus. If you were 100% certain the drug in the prior example would be approved, you could make a 50% gain on the stock if proven correct.

This article is a follow-up to one published November 29, 2017, Corporate Tax Cuts – The Seen and the Unseen. In that piece, we provided an analysis of the proposed corporate tax reduction that lies within the pending tax reform bill. We pointed out that, while investors appear focused on the benefits to corporations, they are grossly negligent ignoring the negative economic effects that higher individual taxes will have on consumption (70% of GDP) and the adverse influence of an additional $1.5 trillion deficit.

In this piece, we consider how the consensus is quantifying the positive effect the tax bill should have on stocks. Specifically, we discuss what is “priced in” to the market. This example, unlike that of the drug maker, is not black and white. However, by explaining how market projections are created, we offer guidance on how much the market has priced in for corporate tax cuts. This in turn offers investors a non-market opinion on what the corporate tax cut is worth and a basis to take appropriate actions.

To be clear, our view of the implications of this legislation are likely negative to GDP and therefore corporate earnings. That said, we also want to understand how the consensus views the proposal in order to form an opinion about how the market may trade. In due time the consequences of poorly constructed tax reform will appear but in the meantime, 720Global …read more



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