Earnings growth was largely absent in 2019, but we expect it to pick up in 2020. With stock valuations elevated, we think earnings hold the key to pushing stocks higher this year. We preview fourth quarter earnings season and share our thoughts on the outlook for corporate profits in 2020.
2019 was a difficult year to forecast after 2018 ended with the worst December since the Great Depression. While our positive stock market outlook proved too conservative, we are pleased to report we got more right than wrong for 2019. Here we recap our 2019 predictions and highlight some hits and misses.
The United States’ airstrike January 3, 2020, near Baghdad, Iraq, that killed a top Iranian military general was a major escalation in Mideast tensions. Iran’s retaliatory strike January 8 sent a message, but additional responses can’t be ruled out. We discuss what this conflict might mean for stocks and assess ongoing risks.
Clarity from the phase-one trade deal with China and United Kingdom election results could help shift stock market performance drivers more toward investing fundamentals in 2020. We expect stocks to appreciate in line with earnings growth next year, which justifies benchmark-like equity allocations in our view.