Euro weakness relative to the dollar and its impact on earnings for US multinationals has become a recurring theme as the big guns have been reporting quarterly results over the past couple of weeks. Overnight Facebook blamed the euro's slide for causing it to miss its revenue forecasts for the three months to the end of March. Facebook was about $20m off its own predicted revenue for the month at $3.54 billion. Facebook now has 1.44 billion users, incidentally, up 3.6% compared to the final quarter of last year. The rate of growth in its user base is increasing and Facebook says 936 million use the social network daily.
Paul Sommerville, of Sommerville Advisory Markets, says about 100 of the top 500 companies in the US have reported this week and it appears that across the board one of the excuses they have been using is the strength of the US dollar against the euro. The euro has fallen by about 24% against the dollar in the past year. This is great for Irish exporters to the US, but not so good for the US companies themselves, he states.
Mr Sommerville suggests that a lot of the US companies seem to be engaged in some sort of "financial engineering" due to Quantitative Easing measures introduced by central banks around the world. He explains that because money is so cheap in the market place, a lot of companies are borrowing money and buying back their own shares. So while companies are saying they are "meeting" or "beating" their own expectations of earnings per share, their revenues are a bit "light", he says. Earnings per share is the amount of profit that is attributed to each individual share and it is an important metric in terms of of people's expectations of what publicly quoted companies earn - the fewer shares in issue, the more you boost earnings per share. The analyst said that while this is good for the medium term, it can be something of a worry for a long term investor.
MORNING BRIEFS - Permanent TSB has published details of the expected price at which it will sell shares to the public ahead of its flotation on the Irish Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange next month. The state-owned lender expects to raise €400m by selling shares at a range of between €3.90 and €4.50 a share. At the mid-point of that range PTSB would have a market capitalisation of €1.9 billion. Separately, Permanent TSB has agreed terms with the Government to repurchase contingent capital notes from the state for €410.5m.
*** eBay - which like Facebook is a significant employer in Ireland - saw its online marketplace shrink over the first quarter for the first time since 2009. The total value of goods sold on its platform was down 2% to $20.2 billion.
*** Following disappointing trade figures and the lowest economic growth figures since the financial crisis the latest economic indicator from China, this time from the manufacturing sector, was also underwhelming. The flash purchasing managers index for China, the initial estimates of activity and sentiment at its factories, showed its weakest reading in a year. It shows output from the manufacturing sector falling at a sharper pace than had been expected.