Every day a new judgment. Every day a strange set of data.
I've come to realize this is a decidedly mixed set of numbers. The entire combination, the entire pastiche of earnings, can only be viewed as mixed.
Last night was typical. Go on the Western Digital (WDC) call. You will hear that personal computers are doing extremely well. You will hear that some of its product lines are sold out. Strong demand for drives and flash. It's incredible how good things are there.
Same with Texas Instruments (TXN) , where industrial demand and auto demand are extremely strong, so strong that the company is brimming with cash, hence its decision to take the dividend to $0.50 from $0.38.
But then again when I spoke to Norfolk Southern (NSC) last night, I didn't get a good feel for industrial demand at all. Auto down 4%. Paper and forest (housing) down 6%. Chems down 10%.
Anything defense is fantastic. Anything that is housing is so-so, except for residential heating, vacuum air conditioning. Timber's weaker. Painting and cabinets and bathrooms are weak. Who can understand this stuff?
I know that there are some people who think that what's good is zero sum or created by stock repurchases or by acquisitions, the AT&T (T) -Time Warner (TWX) deal and today's incredible $47 billion Qualcomm (QCOM) -NXP Semiconductors (NXPI) tie-up (aided by offshore cash).
I get that. AT&T was losing to Sprint (S) and T-Mobile (TMUS) . Qualcomm was too heavily into cellphones and not into the internet of things and industrial applications, the strongest area of the business.
All I can say is that's too narrow a way to look at it.
Mixed is how to approach it. That's the only way to approach it.