In This Corona Quarter, Take Earnings Reports With A Grain Of Salt

Baruch Lev
By Baruch Lev
A lot of companies are reporting losses, of course. But there is nothing new in that.

You will surely be surprised to hear that in the best of times ― the pre-coronavirus years, 2012-2018 ― 45%-49% of all U.S. public companies reported an annual loss. In the best economy in decades, half the enterprises were losers? How can this be? The loss pandemic was even more severe among high-tech and science-based companies (pharma, biotech, electronics, instruments, software, internet services providers) ― 65%-70% of these companies routinely reported annual losses.

So, how will investors during the current earnings season be able to distinguish between the regular losers (50%-70% of all companies) and the corona-related losses? Even more generally, what is the relevance of reported earnings in the time of corona shutdown? In what follows I address these two questions.

Read the full Seeking Alpha article.

Baruch Lev is the Philip Bardes Professor of Accounting and Finance.