Are you a "macro" kind of an investor? Do you see durable goods orders up, and rush out to buy stocks? Do declining durables send you scrambling for the exits? Then get ready for some disappointment.
Last month, we took a peek at the latest numbers on U.S. durable goods production. On balance, it was a good report, but with one important caveat: Transportation orders declined drastically in September, a slip attributed to decreased demand for "nondefense aircraft and parts." Which brings us to the point of today's story.
For those not in the know, that's industry code-speak covering two kinds of planes:
- Business jets you see manufactured by Textron (NYSE: TXT ) , General Dynamics (NYSE: GD ) , and Hawker Beechcraft here in the U.S., and abroad, by Brazil's Embraer (NYSE: ERJ ) and Canada's Bombardier, and
- Big jetliners from Boeing (NYSE: BA )
Now, recent reports of Boeing's success selling its 737 airliner bode well for the second half of that equation going forward. As for the first half, though, well, we just got a bit of bad news, courtesy of none other than Warren Buffett himself. On Monday, Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-B ) subsidiary NetJets announced it is buying 125 business jets ... from Brazil.
Buffett's macroeconomic head fake
This is where it gets interesting. In a couple of weeks, the Bureau of Economic Analysis will release the latest round of purchasing managers' index (PMI) numbers. If new business jets are being ordered from abroad, though, and Boeing hasn't begun work right quick on all of its new 737 orders, our transport numbers, at least, could look pretty dismal.
And yet, the fact that Buffett is buying at all is pretty good news. And the fact that he's anteing up $1 billion to support corporate jet use could be great news for where the U.S. economy is heading (or where he sees it heading, at least). Just don't expect to learn about it from the PMI report. It ain't in there.