U.S. Stocks Will Drop on Slower Profit Growth, UBS’s Golub Says

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index is poised to retreat further from a five-year high as earnings disappoint investors, according to Jonathan Golub at UBS AG.

“All we’ve done is to put off the very hard decisions around the fiscal cliff,” Golub, chief U.S. market strategist at UBS, said in a Bloomberg Radio interview with Tom Keene and Ken Prewitt. “What we’re going to see in the earnings season is that we may not be falling apart, but this underlying trend of earnings growth really is going to be weak and disappointing.”

The earnings season will unofficially start tomorrow when Alcoa Inc. becomes the first company in the Dow Jones Industrial Average to announce results. Fourth-quarter profits from S&P 500 companies probably increased 2.9 percent, according to analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. That would be the second-slowest quarterly growth since 2009, the data show.

Golub forecasts the S&P 500 will drop 2.8 percent from the last close to 1,425 by the end of this year. That is more pessimistic than the average estimate of 1,534 from 15 strategists, including Golub, surveyed by Bloomberg.

The S&P 500 surged 4.6 percent last week, the most since December 2011, as lawmakers passed a bill averting spending cuts and tax increases known as the fiscal cliff. The advance prompted investors to cut demand for protection against losses, driving down the cost of options every day during the week. The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, known as the VIX, plunged 39 percent to 13.83 for the biggest slump since its inception two decades ago.

The equities index slipped 0.4 percent to 1,460.69 as of 11:07 a.m. in New York today.

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