There was no macro on the Salesforce.com (CRM) call. We did not hear macro mentioned when it came to The Children's Place (PLCE) call. If you heard macro with Nvidia (NVDA) , let me know. I sure didn't. While it seems like ages ago, I still can recall -- starkly -- that you didn't get a lot of macro on the Netflix (NFLX) call either.
We have all pretty much gotten used to terms like "macro", which we rarely have heard before the Great Recession. In fact, a decade ago if you blamed the macro, meaning the all-around, competitive funk that surrounds this world, I used to think that it was some sort of alibi; that you had simply failed to execute, something that was always proven right when the competitors in your segment blew out the numbers and didn't have any "macro" worries.
The fact is now, though, that almost every company does have macro worries and there are only a handful that don't. Almost every company sees too much competition or had clients or customers who are cautious or can hold back spending.
In fact, the reason why you saw such huge moves up in the stocks of Salesforce, Children' Place, Nvidia and Netflix was precisely because they have products that transcended the macro -- something that's remarkably rare.
It's ironic, as I write this, I can recall times where I would single out a company that blamed the macro and I would point a finger and say "oh yeah, well where's the macro alibi on so-and-so's call."
But the sheer lack of companies that didn't fall back on something or complain or wring hands this quarter tells me that it is the macro. It also tells me when you have a company that doesn't complain it's a pretty rare breed.
Although the cloud space is ferocious, the fact that Salesforce won contracts from dominant names in pretty much every vertical tells me that it just happens to have a fabulous suite of products and amazing execution. That's a rare breed in tech. Jane Elfers just seems to own the children's space in the mall. No matter what anyone, including Amazon (AMZN) , says, there is only one Netflix.
And Nvidia? It's like the Intel of old. It has the chips that work the fastest, with the most power, which are also the most elegant. It has outengineered everyone else.
Now, what does this paucity of non-macro blamers really say?
I think it's part and parcel with the election, frankly. It says something about the results that the pollsters didn't catch. The reason why companies blame the macro so much is because the macro is indeed awful. Yes, employment's good. Yes, there are jobs to be had and wages are going higher.
But there isn't enough growth to go around and people are sick of it. They want less gloom. They want more surety. They want a sense of order. An election may not solve that. However, the fact that I can only think of four companies that didn't fall back on the excuse of the macro -- and I am including drug companies -- tells me that the macro's no excuse; it's real. It's why so many businesses are not performing as well as they should.
Any sign that it's getting better will take stocks a lot higher than they have gone. You know why? Because if I can recall only four companies that didn't blame it for some weakness, then it's real. And it's just plain wrong that it's that bad, and it's about time the government -- any government -- did something about it.