Stocks have gotten off to a very rocky start in 2022, with the potential for Federal Reserve rate hikes coming and the geopolitical worries over Russia and Ukraine only adding to the uncertainty. We don’t want to minimize the impact of that major geopolitical event, but there is some positive news out there, even though it might not feel like it.
Starting with Russia and Ukraine, the truth is the U.S. economy and the overall stock market likely won’t be impacted long term by the recent conflict. Remember in a similar move in 2014 Russia annexed the Crimea Peninsula. In fact, stocks took most previous major geopolitical events in stride. Looking at more than 20 geopolitical events such as the attack on Pearl Harbor and 9/11, the S&P 500 Index fell only about 5% on average with recovery lasting under two months, but larger conflicts in sensitive regions can be deeper and last longer. We do expect further market volatility as the situation unfolds and elevated uncertainty may persist for several weeks, but if the conflict is contained, we do not expect long-lasting contagion to broader markets. We are watching how this evolves and will be communicating with our clients their next best step.
With anxiety running high, here are some important numbers that should help calm some nerves.
The good news is corporate America continues to see strong earnings. S&P 500 earnings per share in the fourth quarter are tracking to a 31% year-over-year increase (FactSet), roughly 10 percentage points above the consensus estimate when earnings season began. The top-line growth was extremely strong as well, with revenue growth up close to 15%. Lastly, profit margins saw very little compression, as companies with pricing power have been able to pass along higher costs and largely preserve those high margins, which are well above pre-pandemic levels.
Finally, COVID-19 trends are very positive as well, with new cases down more than 90% from the January peak (John Hopkins University). Many states are lifting mask mandates and a strong reopening will likely take place over the coming months and into the summer. Backlogs and bottlenecks continue to slowly trend the right way, and the labor force remains quite healthy as well.
The concerns and uncertainties are real, and the road ahead could be filled with more bumps and bruises. However, with U.S. consumers and businesses in solid shape, we think the U.S. economy could grow as much as 4% this year, much better than the pace of the last recovery.
Remember based on history a post shock relief rally may be just as likely, if not more, than further drops, and long-term investors should keep this in mind as better times are likely coming in 2022.
Please contact us if you have any questions.
This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change.
References to markets, asset classes, and sectors are generally regarding the corresponding market index. Indexes are unmanaged statistical composites and cannot be invested into directly. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment and do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.
All data is provided as of February 24, 2022.
Any company names noted herein are for educational purposes only and not an indication of trading intent or a solicitation of their products or services. LPL Financial doesn’t provide research on individual equities.
All index data from FactSet.
This Research material was prepared by LPL Financial, LLC. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.
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