For Immediate Release
Chicago, IL - October 25, 2018 - Zacks Director of Research Sheraz Mian says, "The earnings picture remains solid, but some points of weakness have started showing up, with the strong dollar, freight inflation, trade and economic weakness abroad putting a question mark on estimates for the coming periods."
Weak Spots in the Earnings Picture
Note: The following is an excerpt from this week's Earnings Trends report. You can access the full report that contains detailed historical actual and estimates for the current and following periods, please click here>>>
Here are the key points:
- Total earnings for the 139 S&P 500 members that have reported results are up +22% from the same period last year on +8.7% higher revenues, with 82% beating EPS estimates and 62.6+% beating revenue estimates.
- There are no major surprises on the growth front, though it is decelerating from the first half of the year. Positive revenue surprises are tracking below other recent periods, with Q3 revenue beats the lowest since 2017 Q1.
- The earnings picture remains solid, but some points of weakness have started showing up, with the strong dollar, freight inflation, trade and economic weakness abroad putting a question mark on estimates for the coming periods.
- The stock market reaction has been the most positive for the Transportation, Business Services and Technology sectors. Market reaction has been the most negative for the Construction, Aerospace, and Industrial Products sectors.
- Looking at Q3 as a whole, total earnings for the index are expected to be up +20% from the same period last year on +7.2% higher revenues, the 6th time in the last 7 quarters of double-digit earnings growth.
- Q3 earnings growth is expected to be in double-digits territory for 10 of the 16 Zacks sectors, with Energy, Finance, Construction, Basic Materials and Technology sectors with the strongest growth and Conglomerates and Autos expected to experience modest earnings declines.
- For the small-cap S&P 600 index, we now have Q3 results from 89 index members or 14.8% of its members. Total earnings for these small-cap companies are up +30.6% on +12.9% higher revenues, with 69.7% beating EPS estimates and 55.1% beating revenue estimates.
- For the small-cap index as a whole, total Q3 earnings are expected to be up +18.1% from the same period last year on +7.4% higher revenues. The Finance sector, which is an even bigger earnings contributor to the small-cap index compared to the S&P 500 index, is expected to see +52% higher earnings on +6.6% higher revenues.
- For full-year 2018, total earnings for the S&P 500 index are expected to be up +20.5% on +6.6% higher revenues. For full-year 2019, total earnings are expected to be up +9.9% on +5.2% higher revenues.
- The implied 'EPS' for the index, calculated using current 2018 P/E of 17.4X and index close, as of October 23rd, is $157.40. Using the same methodology, the index 'EPS' works out to $173 for 2019 (P/E of 15.8X) and $189.10 for 2020 (P/E of 14.5X). The multiples for 2018, 2019 and 2020 have been calculated using the index's total market cap and aggregate bottom-up earnings for each year.
The picture emerging from the Q3 earnings season is one of reassuring strength, with the favorable trends of the last few quarters still very much intact. The growth pace is still very strong though it has started decelerating from the first half's elevated level. But some chinks in the earnings armor have started showing up, with the market interpreting weak guidance as a question mark over estimates for 2019 and beyond.
Where is the Weakness?
Illinois Tool Works ITW became the latest industrial company to identify issues that many of its peers have also flagged this earnings season. The issue is that Illinois Tool Works and Caterpillar CAT , 3M MMM and Avery Dennison AVY and others like them earn substantial parts of their revenues from international markets whose growth outlook is at best uncertain.
Questions about China's growth outlook is dominating the headlines, but financial conditions for other emerging economies like Brazil, India, Indonesia, Turkey and elsewhere has also weakened in the wake of Fed tightening. These tighter financial conditions could start having a negative impact on economic growth in these key emerging markets, which combined account for more than half of global economic growth presently.
The strong U.S. dollar and its impact on corporate profitability is another by-product of U.S. interest rates and Fed policy. Expenses have been rising as well, with tariffs, freight inflation and labor challenges adding to the mix. These trends are putting the issue of 'peak earnings' in the spotlight.
Keep in mind that peak earnings doesn't mean that earnings start declining in the coming quarters, as you can clearly see in the chart below of quarterly year-over-year earnings growth. But rather that the best of the earnings story is now behind us, with not only growth decelerating but the revisions trend also turning negative.
If growth in the coming quarters turns out to be along the lines of what is imbedded in current expectations, then we don't need to worry about corporate profitability and can continue looking at earnings as a source of support for stock prices. But weak guidance from the likes of Caterpillar and others feeds into the bearish cyclical narrative that sees the incremental cyclical change to the downside.
In other words, this bearish view sees the cycle to have peaked already and projects a downturn in the not-too-distant future, which is why domestic cyclicals like banks and homebuilders and global cyclical players like the industrial and materials sectors have been struggling lately. We don't see this in data yet, but stocks are forward looking vehicles that try to price expectations for the coming quarters. This is the major source of angst in the market presently.
Today's Stocks from Zacks' Hottest Strategies
It's hard to believe, even for us at Zacks. But while the market gained +21.9% in 2017, our top stock-picking screens have returned +115.0%, +109.3%, +104.9%, +98.6%, and +67.1%.
And this outperformance has not just been a recent phenomenon. Over the years it has been remarkably consistent. From 2000 - 2017, the composite yearly average gain for these strategies has beaten the market more than 19X over. Maybe even more remarkable is the fact that we're willing to share their latest stocks with you without cost or obligation.
See Them Free>>
Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/zacksresearch
Join us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/Zacks-Investment-Research/57553657748?ref=ts
Zacks Investment Research is under common control with affiliated entities (including a broker-dealer and an investment adviser), which may engage in transactions involving the foregoing securities for the clients of such affiliates.
Zacks Investment Research
800-767-3771 ext. 9339
Zacks.com provides investment resources and informs you of these resources, which you may choose to use in making your own investment decisions. Zacks is providing information on this resource to you subject to the Zacks "Terms and Conditions of Service" disclaimer. www.zacks.com/disclaimer .
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss.This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit http://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.
Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report3M Company (MMM): Free Stock Analysis ReportCaterpillar Inc. (CAT): Free Stock Analysis ReportIllinois Tool Works Inc. (ITW): Free Stock Analysis ReportAvery Dennison Corporation (AVY): Free Stock Analysis ReportTo read this article on Zacks.com click here.Zacks Investment Research