Earnings Expectations Are Moving Higher

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:


  • We are off to a good start in the Q1 earnings season, with the earnings growth pace modestly accelerating from the trend line of the last few quarters, though revenue growth remains on a decelerating trend, and positive surprises are tracking below historical average levels. Importantly, earnings estimates are going up.


  • Total earnings for the 48 S&P 500 members that have reported Q1 results are up +9.5% from the same period last year on +4.5% higher revenues, with 77.1% beating EPS estimates and 64.6% beating revenue estimates.


  • The earnings growth pace for these 48 index members represents an acceleration from what we had seen in other recent periods, though the EPS and revenue beats percentages are tracking modestly below the 12-quarter averages for this group of 48 index members.


  • For the Finance sector, we now have Q1 results for 39.7% of the sector’s market capitalization in the S&P 500 index. Total earnings for these Finance companies are up +4.6% from the same period last year on +4.7% higher revenues, with 77.8% beating EPS estimates and the same proportion beating revenue estimates.

A notable favorable development on the earnings front is signs of improvement in the overall revisions trend, with estimates in the aggregate starting to go modestly up. We are seeing this trend for the current period (2024 Q2) as well as for full-year 2024 estimates.

This new development has roughly coincided with the start of the Q1 earnings season. That said, a number of sectors, including Tech and Retail, had already been enjoying positive estimate revisions for quite some time. At present, half of the 16 Zacks sectors have higher aggregate earnings estimates relative to what was expected at the start of the year.

The Energy sector is now enjoying favorable estimate revisions as well, as you can see in the revisions charts for Exxon XOM and Chevron CVX below.

Zacks Investment Research
Image Source: Zacks Investment Research


Zacks Investment Research
Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

Chevron’s current full-year 2024 EPS estimate of $13.56 is down from $15.28 at the end of 2023, but it is up from $13.04 at the end of March 2024. As with Chevron, estimates for Exxon have been going up as well, with the oil major’s $9.70 EPS estimate up +6.5% over the last two weeks.

Unlike the Energy sector, whose revisions trend has just turned positive, the Tech sector has been enjoying a favorable revisions trend for some time now. The chart below shows how the aggregate full-year earnings estimate for the sector has evolved over the past year.

Zacks Investment Research
Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

The chart below shows how S&P 500 aggregate earnings estimates for full-year 2024 have evolved.

Zacks Investment Research
Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

Below, we show the overall earnings picture for the S&P 500 index on an annual basis.

Zacks Investment Research
Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

A big part of this year’s earnings growth is expected to come from margins reversing last year’s declines and starting to expand again. The expectation is that aggregate net margins this year get back to the 2022 level, with the Tech sector driving most of the gains.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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