The consumer is not spending like they used to. This is fact and can be seen in the economic numbers as well as the earnings reports from companies in recent days. What investors need to know is that the fact that consumers are not spending now is nothing different than over the last few years. There has been no immediate change in consumer habits this quarter or in 2014. So why are companies like The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO), United Technologies Corporation (NYSE:UTX) and McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD) all trading down on earnings? The answer is simple. Since the economy collapsed in 2008-9, companies have used many tactics to simulate earnings growth. The first was job cuts. By cutting thousands of jobs, most publicly traded companies were able to show great earnings numbers. While there was no real growth underneath these numbers, it still helped lower the P/E ratio on these companies and the S&P 500. Another tactic these companies have used in the past was stock buyback programs. By eliminating the shares in the company, earnings PER SHARE are boosted artificially. Companies have been high on buybacks because money is extremely cheap due to the Federal Reserve's policies. As these tactics are accomplished, companies lose their bullets in the gun. What we are seeing now and will see in the next few years is a slowing of earnings growth because these tactics have been used up. Earnings growth will slow even more when interest rates (cheap money) head higher.
Earnings that disappoint Wall Street will continue. Charts that are at 52 week highs into earnings can be shorted in most cases. This trend will continue and investors will eventually realize the scam these companies have played over the last five years.