NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- With P&G missing Wall Street consensus estimates for the fourth quarter and J&J (JNJ) - Get Report again slashing its full-year forecast as it announced second-quarter earnings, TheStreet this past week was looking to gauge how readers were feeling about the two consumer giant stocks.
Were they bearish or bullish?
Last week, we posted a poll posing that very question, and the results we received were decidedly upbeat -- with a far greater portion, or 47.23%, bullish on both J&J and P&G, while only 12.1% were bearish on both. Some readers were optimistic about one, but pessimistic about the other. Some 23.6% of poll respondents said they were bullish on J&J, but bearish on P&G. Another 17.1% voted in favor of the reverse scenario.
Analysts across the board agree that while J&J and P&G certainly have their own unique problems, the still tough consumer environment that's affecting the entire sector can take at least as much of the blame for the blemishes in their latest earnings reports.
J&J recently announced that it was in advanced talks to buy Dutch biotech company
. J&J already owns 17.9% of Crucell and would be buying the rest of it for $2.3 billion. Meanwhile, a
report citing Israeli daily
said P&G will buy Israeli medical devices firm
for as much as $100 million.
Fragile consumer sentiment is a problem affecting the entire consumer goods sector, but a lack of clarity from Washington on four fronts isn't helping either, said Frank Ingarra, co-portfolio manager at Hennessy Funds. According to Ingarra, the areas lacking clarity are financial reform and how that affects credit; the healthcare bill; the possibility of increased taxes; and the return of energy reform and carbon credits with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill -- "which obviously significantly increases costs for companies."
"We don't seem to have any guidance on these four things, so companies are hoarding cash -- they're not spending it because they don't know the rules of the game," Ingarra said. "Instead, they're acquiring other companies. We're starting to see a pickup in M&A -- because if you can't grow your top line, you want to either defend your market share or find another way to grow -- and that could be through acquisitions in this environment."
-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.
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