At the end of the first quarter this year, concerns over profitability in general, and more specifically profit margins, were at the forefront of many investors’ minds. With energy prices rising, inflation in general, and the war in Ukraine, forecasting the profitability of companies in the quarter was especially challenging.
It is said in the world of economics that one number does not a trend make. We think that may well be the case here. As mentioned earlier, when we entered 2022 the economy was moving ahead nicely. The 6.9% growth rate for the last quarter of 2021 was more than double the 3.4% average rate from 1948 – 2022 . So, it is important to understand that this most recent report is no more a prophecy for the coming months than the Q4 2021 report was for this year.
We, at Atlas, are very concerned about the humanitarian crisis facing the people of Ukraine, the refugees, and the neighboring countries that are struggling to provide for them. This is a disastrous situation that seems to have no defensible reason for having occurred other than the callousness of a dictatorial regime bent on conquering a territory that it wrongfully claims authority over. Few invasions of a territory in recent history have triggered the kind of international opposition that this one has. Our hearts go out to all those families affected by this, and we hope for a resolution soon.
Looking ahead, the consensus estimate has earnings growing about 20% in both the 3rd and 4th quarters of this year. If true, this could serve to put a firm floor under current market levels and provide the launch pad for future advances. This does not however indicate that stock prices can be expected to increase by this factor in the coming months.