Wall Street to Trump: Read our lips. Just fix taxes

Trump's job creation, 100 days in
Trump's job creation, 100 days in

To paraphrase former President George H.W. Bush, Wall Street has a message for President Trump.

Read our lips. Just focus on taxes.

Yes, the stock market has enjoyed a solid rally during the first 100 days of Trump's term in the White House. The Dow is up more than 6% and not far from an all-time high.

Some of that has to do with strong earnings from Corporate America, continued signs of a resilient (if not necessarily robust) jobs market and optimism about an economic rebound in Europe and renewed momentum in China.

But several investing experts say that the main reason for the rally is the continued hope that Trump will be able to come up with a plan (that Congress will approve) to lower taxes -- particularly for large businesses.

Wall Street is willing to let Trump's failure to quickly repeal and replace Obamacare slide.

Many strategists and portfolio managers aren't too concerned that Trump will prioritize building a wall on the border with Mexico and crack down further on immigration.

Related: Trump's 15% business tax is lowest for a big economy

And ironically enough, investors don't even seem to think that undoing the Dodd-Frank financial reform laws from the Obama administration should be a big priority either.

They want to see movement on the tax front. In particular, Wall Street is hoping that any tax changes will allow for big companies with cash overseas to be able to bring back, or repatriate, the money to the United States at a one-time lower rate.

Tech giants Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL), Cisco (CSCO) and Oracle (ORCL) are sitting on more than half a trillion dollars in cash -- with a big chunk of that sitting in overseas bank accounts.

Other large companies, like industrial conglomerate GE (GE), also have a significant amount of cash abroad.

Related: Trump's tax plan could cost an estimated $5.5 trillion

With the Federal Reserve now looking to keep raising short-term interest rates, Wall Street is turning to Trump to help stimulate the economy. Corporate tax reform could be the answer.

And while some fear companies will just increase dividends and buy back stock with the cash -- moves that would help shareholders but not average Americans with little invested in stocks -- some think Trump could force companies to do more.

"The repatriation of taxes could help the most," said TD Ameritrade chief market strategist JJ Kinahan. "But companies would have to reinvest a certain percentage of that in infrastructure. Trump has to make companies put their cash to work."

Related: How Trump's tax plan would help the wealthy (and Trump)

A.B. Mendez, a portfolio manager with Frost Investment Advisors, added that Trump could take it a step further and require that companies use some of the cash to explicitly hire more workers and build new plants in the United States.

"Repatriation is an opportunity for Trump to create jobs. He can leverage his business background when he has more meetings with CEOs," Mendez said.

"A meaningful part of repatriated cash should be used for capital expenditures, jobs and retraining -- and not just for financial engineering," he added.

Investors around the world share that assessment.

Luca Paolini, chief strategist with Pictet Asset Management in London, said that global investors think tax reform should be the number one priority for Trump.

Infrastructure spending/stimulus and deregulation of the health care and financial industries should take a backseat to taxes.

Paolini added that even though getting any significant changes to tax laws will not be easy, he thinks it's a mistake to assume that Trump's inability to kill the Affordable Care Act is a sign that he and Congress can't come to an agreement on taxes.

But Wall Street is hoping that Trump will be able to help the little guy as well.

Related: Here's Trump's record on the middle class

Dave Haviland, managing partner at Beaumont Capital Management, said it will be equally important for Trump to try and simplify the tax code.

"If people in the financial industry are having difficulty filling out their tax returns, then the process is way too complicated," he said.

So the message from investors seems to be pretty clear. Dear Mr. President. Stop tweeting. Put down the phone. Forget about the wall and attacks on the media. Head over to Capitol Hill and get something done on taxes.

"If Trump can get changes in only one area, the hope is that it will be tax reform. That would be doable," said Dan Miller, director of equities at GW&K Investment Management. "Tax reform can drive earnings to an even higher level."

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