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Final Q4 GDP Unchanged At 2.2%, Below Expectations; Corporate Profits Tumble

So much for the "self-sustaining", "escape-velocity" recovery. Again.

After rising at an annualized pace of 4.6% and 5.0% in Q2 and Q3, the final Q4 GDP estimate (a number which will still be revised at least 3-4 times in the coming years), slid more than half to 2.2%, the same as the second estimate from a month ago, and below the consensus Wall Street estimate of 2.4%.

There were few changes underneath the surface (as can be expected with the bottom line number not changing) however most notable was the increase in Personal Consumption which increase from 2.83% to 2.98%, with this increase more than offset by a drop in Inventories from a 0.12% contribution to a -0.10% detraction from Q4 annualized growth. Net trade ended up subtracting -1.03% from Q4 growth, compared to -1.16% previously. Finally, fixed investment and government spending were virtually unchanged.

 

But the worst news was the following:

For the year 2014, profits from current production decreased $17.1 billion, in contrast to an
increase of $84.1 billion in 2013
. Profits of domestic financial corporations decreased, and profits of
domestic nonfinancial corporations increased. The rest-of-the-world component of profits decreased
$9.0 billion in 2014, in contrast to an increase of $1.3 billion in 2013.

While this has to do a lot with the CCAdj and IVA adjustments we profiled previously...

According to the measure of profits before tax with inventory valuation adjustment, profits of domestic financial corporations decreased $13.0 billion in the fourth quarter, in contrast to an increase of $16.2 billion in the third. Profits of domestic nonfinancial corporations increased $14.7 billion, compared with an increase of $31.1 billion. The fourth-quarter increase in profits of nonfinancial corporations primarily reflected increases in retail trade, in "other" nonfinancial industries, and in manufacturing that were partly offset by decreases in utilities and in transportation and warehousing.

 

Profits after tax with IVA and CCAdj decreased $135.4 billion, in contrast to an increase of $64.6 billion. Dividends decreased $54.5 billion, in contrast to an increase of $102.5 billion. Undistributed profits decreased $80.9 billion, compared with a decrease of $37.9 billion.

... the fact that profits are now declining is not what those advocating EPS growth would like to see.

In short: a number which confirms the US economy is once again slowing down, and will hit the breaks when in one month the BEA reports that Q1 GDP was at or below 1.0%, with snow in the winter getting the bulk of the ridiculous blame once again.