What CEOs Said Last Week: The $500B tech companies all depend on connectivity

What CEOs Said Last Week: The $500B tech companies all depend on connectivity

by Scott Krisiloff, CIO, Avondale Asset Management

Earnings season began to slow back down this week. Most of the important companies have now reported, so this week’s post draws heavily from a handful of calls. The economic picture remains unchanged. There’s still a lot of optimism, but fundamentally GDP growth has been anemic and policymakers haven’t come through on promises.

Among the quotes are two interesting blocks. One is from Charlie Ergen of Dish. He implies that internet companies are seeing more than their fair share of profits from connectivity and that telecom companies (the distributors that make the internet possible) will fight back. Ergen has an ulterior motive in saying this. He owns a large chunk of wireless spectrum and may be trying to get one of those internet companies (Amazon?) to think about buying him.

The other interesting block is from David Seaton of Fluor. He points out that construction markets have never really gotten back to prior peaks. He is optimistic about infrastructure spending though. Even without a large stimulus bill, American infrastructure is probably overdue for some heavy investment.

The Macro Outlook:

Most people are feeling pretty good

“I feel pretty good about the global economy right now. We’ve already experienced, as you’ve seen in our orders the last couple of quarters, this is pretty good activity right now and we look for it to continue.” –Parker Hannifin CEO Tom Williams (Industrial Components)

The original reasons for optimism haven’t materialized but it’s better to be lucky than right

“I guess this is a case of better lucky than right. We expected the market to go up but for different reasons. We thought it would be based on generally positive growth oriented policies enacted by the administration, lower taxes, infrastructure spending, healthcare, reform et cetera, none of these things transpired. But what has transpired has been kind of global synchronized economic growth and a very accommodative global monetary structure. So, I’m happy with the outcome the reason for it was different from what we anticipated, but we’ll take it.” –Third Point CEO Dan Loeb (Hedge Fund)

Profits have rebounded but GDP growth has been anemic

“I think GDP probably is still a better reference point for assessing demand than corporate profits are. Obviously, they’re both averages of lots of economic activity and lots of participants in the economy. But GDP is a broader measure. Obviously, GDP has been quite anemic.” –Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson (Hotels)

Washington is gridlocked

“So one of the frustrations I see, and this is kind of a political commentary…there’s 2,200…candidates have to go through Senate approval. I think the last count was 55. And you’ve got people like Elaine Chao in transportation. You’ve got Rick Perry in energy, Rex in State. These people that we know and know well are sitting there twiddling their thumbs, so to speak, because we haven’t been able – the government hasn’t been able to give their team. So I think that is why you saw things screech to a halt. And I don’t see a whole lot of improvement until that phenomenon is behind us and the efforts that the administration are putting forth in terms of the regulatory reform actually see light of day. A lot of good intent, a lot of good thought and strategies to people that I’ve talked to, including the folks I just mentioned, but until we get those things, done you’re not going to see these permits that are absolutely necessary to go forward actually awarded.” –Fluor CEO David Seaton (Engineering)

But don’t under-estimate the optimism

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