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Focus on the earnings, not the noise




By Michael O’Connor    

Major Indexes reversed gains early in the week to finish nearly 2% lower as tensions on the Russian Ukrainian border prolong the current market uncertainty.

In addition to the feds ability to fight inflation, the prospect of war has been added to the mix.

This uncertainty has led to some dramatic price fluctuations as stocks violently whipsaw.

We have seen mega-cap names trade like penny stocks, as the apparent lack of euphoric outlook continues to bring the valuations of many of these names firmly into focus.

It appears that valuations actually do matter, and growth at any price isn’t a flawless investing strategy. Who would have thought?


It’s important to highlight that earnings growth has continued over the quarter, the companies that make up these stock market indexes are now more profitable than ever.

The fundamental of these businesses are strong, but the endless growth narrative that pushed many of these names to record valuations is being re-examined.

For example, Netflix’s reported actual earnings per share (EPS) of $1.33 for Q4, which was well above the mean EPS estimate of $0.83.

Not too shabby, right?


The market doesn’t care about what has happened nearly as much as it cares about what will happen.

From January 18 to January 24, the stock price for Netflix fell 24.2% based on disappointing forward guidance.

Despite having five times higher net income, double the revenue and over 100 million extra subscribers, Netflix is now trading below its June 2018 price as its growth outlook is adjusted downwards.

Over this period, Netflix has been a classic case of good company, bad stock. In 2018, too much of the growth story had already been baked into the price, leaving little room for an upside surprise. So, despite the success of the company over this period, the stock has grossly underperformed the broader market.

In short, the huge expectation placed on these high growth names following the onset of the pandemic was simply unsustainable. The market is now re-rating these stocks to account for the more realistic growth outlook.


Looking at the positives; stock prices have fallen but earnings estimates have increased over recent months.

Many of the growth names that have seen considerable declines have now been re-rated towards more respectable metrics without significant disruption to the broader market.

Facebook, Netflix, Shopify, PayPal, Zoom and Square have lost more than $1.1 trillion in market cap from their peaks seen in 2021.

Yes, it has been particularly painful if you’re holding these individual names (I hold two…unfortunately), but the S&P has managed to eliminate much of the excess without entering correction territory.

This concentrated valuation correction across many of these high profile names now leaves the market in a much healthier position from a valuation standpoint.

For example, the forward 12-month P/E ratio for the S&P 500 is currently 19.2. This is below the 19.5 times forward earnings recorded prior to the pandemic.

While geopolitical events may weigh on markets over the immediate term, recent pull backs have helped to strip the pandemic exuberance out of the market.

These lower valuation metrics as earnings continue to rise offering a more attractive entry point for buyers waiting on the sidelines.

Focus on the earnings, not the noise. Earnings ultimately drive market returns.

To read my full market analysis, go to

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Killarney to feature on TG4’s Country Music show

By Sean Moriarty A song about Killarney – once made famous by local Country Music hero Dermot Moriarty – will feature on TG4 tomorrow night (Tuesday). The second series of […]




By Sean Moriarty

A song about Killarney – once made famous by local Country Music hero Dermot Moriarty – will feature on TG4 tomorrow night (Tuesday).

The second series of the Irish channel’s County Music show ‘Viva Ceol Tire’, which highlights emerging Country Music talent in Ireland, airs every Tuesday night at 9.30pm.

The next programme will feature Donegal singer David James’ version of ‘Oh Killarney’.

The programme was filmed entirely on location in Killarney including Torc Waterfall, Ladies View Moll’s Gap and Kate Kearney’s Cottage.

“The song was written by Dennis Allen. However, it was a hit for Dermot Moriarty in the 1980s. The first time I heard it I loved it and I was thrilled with the reaction my version has got,” James, who is from the small village of Killean in Donegal, told the Killarney Advertiser.

“It’s pretty rural but I love it. I’ll be in Country Music 10 years this May. My first gig was in the local GAA hall for my aunt’s 50th birthday. I was 14 and I’ve been at it ever since.”



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Five questions to ask yourself before buying a stock

By Michael O’Connor, When it comes to investing, nothing is certain. There are no perfect stocks to buy because there’s no way of predicting the future with 100% accuracy. […]




By Michael O’Connor,

When it comes to investing, nothing is certain.

There are no perfect stocks to buy because there’s no way of predicting the future with 100% accuracy.

The truth is, investing is hard, and building a portfolio of top stocks that beat the market is something that even financial professionals have trouble doing consistently.

For most people, investing in index funds is the perfect hands-off approach, providing broad exposure to the stock market at a very low fee. Even my own personal portfolio is made up of roughly 70% ETFs despite the fact I invest in the market for a living.

But I believe some stock picking is a good strategy for many hands-on people.

Taking a small portion of your overall portfolio and diligently selecting a small number of companies to invest in gives you an opportunity to learn about the investing process and fully understand the businesses you are investing in, which helps to build conviction in your positions.

From a psychological standpoint “collector’s instinct” kicks in, enabling people to participate and invest more money over time.

Lastly, for Irish investors, there are tax benefits to consider. If you invest in individual stocks, you are taxed at the CGT rate of 33%, and the first €1,270 of your gains are exempt from CGT each year. When investing in index funds or ETFs, you are taxed at the exit tax rate of 41% with no annual exemption.

For those interested in picking individual stocks, here are five questions you should ask yourself before investing in any company.

Do I understand the business?

Too many people invest in businesses they don’t understand because it ‘sounds good’. If you have no idea how the company works, you won’t have the conviction needed to hold onto the stock when an inevitable downturn comes.

Can the balance sheet withstand severe, temporary adversity?

This seems obvious, but so many people invest in companies without understanding how much money a company holds and who they owe money to. Economic cycles are guaranteed. You must ensure that the company has enough cash-on-hand to avoid becoming obsolete when activity slows.

Will the company benefit from long-term trends?

Make sure the company will remain relevant into the future. If the stock is cheap now, it may be cheap for a reason.

Is the company enjoying profitable growth?

Not growth at all costs, but a combination of sustainable growth and value. All this information can be found online at sites like

What are the risk factors?

Is the company trying something new and untested? If yes, who are its competitors and how successful are they? If other players are more established, this company may have a tough time breaking into the market.


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