Storm Another Earnings Excuse?

 | Oct 29, 2012 | 6:41 AM EDT
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So, another asterisked quarter?

I have to presume that this shutdown now comes under the category of "we would have made X if it weren't for the hurricane." We will then be suspicious of what business was really missed, especially in an online world where people can shop on the Internet and make decisions about business that don't require them to leave their homes.

I can already hear Radioshack (RSH) say that the hurricane hurt business and Best Buy (BBY) saying that it was just beginning to turn around, but ...

I only mention this caveat because these quarters that are just being reported are all about caveating. What would have happened if the euro had gone higher. What would have been the case if September were colder. What might have been the number if we weren't worried about the fiscal cliff? The economic turmoil in Europe cost us X.

Why is this so important? Simply because if business were really good, we wouldn't know the difference. We would just be saying "of course, sure, wow, that number would have been terrific."

I have spent most of this earning season simply trying to figure out how really bad things are and how really bad they are going to get simply because governments around the world aren't doing much to stimulate growth or are simply delaying strategies that could help business. There seems to be no core business support at any government level in Europe or the United States. In China we are getting some and in Canada it seems to be the ethos.

But without government supporting, not just small business but business itself, we are caught here just twiddling our thumbs. The storm becomes one more caveat, one more "lost day" that couldn't be made up that shouldn't matter at all. It just makes things more bleak.

And bleak they are. The binary world we find ourselves in is who is doing badly right now and who is about to do badly. There is no one thought to about to do well except those companies that do a lot of business in China because the perception that's coming clear there is that the government simply overtightened and that policy has been turned over.

Of course, the companies you buy because of China are now suffering from weakness in the United States and they are going to lose valuable days because of the storm, not just because of the fiscal cliff or the election for that matter.

So, we are all about alibis and alibis that don't hold up as we wait for everyone to disappoint, even the companies that aren't about to.

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