Nearly all sectors have reached the last leg of the Q1 earnings season with 87.2% of the S&P 500 companies having reported their results as of May 6, 2016 (per the latest Zacks Earnings Trend ). Notably, a sizeable chunk of these companies delivered better-than-expected results, probably because estimates for this quarter were already reduced to easy-to-beat levels, owing to the global macroeconomic concerns.
Among the 16 Zacks sectors deciding the fate of the overall index, 8 are expected to witness an earnings decline in Q1, with Basic Materials, Industrial Products, Energy and Conglomerates being a big drag. On the contrary, the Consumer Staples sector looks attractive as it is expected to witness 2.1% earnings growth in Q1, though revenue is anticipated to slide 4%, better than a 7.9% slump witnessed in the preceding quarter.
Per the latest report, out of 84.4% of the S&P 500 Consumer Staple stocks that have reported results so far, 85.2% beat earnings and 66.7% surpassed revenue estimates. Also, 1.6% of these companies saw their earnings improve year over year, while 5.3% posted a slowdown in revenues, mainly accountable to the foreign currency fluctuations.
While robust cost savings and better pricing helped major food behemoths like Kellogg Company K) and The Hershey Company HSY post better-than-expected earnings even amid a challenging currency environment, Archer Daniels Midland Company ADM was unable to battle the same and thus, continued with its dismal earnings trend. Apart from the weakening currencies, economic slowdown in many emerging countries remains a hurdle for international sales and profits for many food stocks.
That said, let's see what's in store for these food stocks queued up for earnings releases this week.
Leading processor and distributor of fresh milk and other dairy products, Dean Foods CompanyDF is slated to report first-quarter fiscal 2016 results on May 10. The company, which has outperformed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by an average of 23.5% over the past four quarters, currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell) and an Earnings ESP of 0.00%.
Though Dean Food's earnings topped estimates in the preceding quarter, sales remained soft and lagged expectations for the fifth straight time, mainly on account of a decline in volumes. Further, the company expects the first quarter to witness a low single-digit dip in volumes, thus posing a concern. Apart from this, Dean Foods' heavy dependence on commodities such as raw milk, soybeans, diesel fuel and others, greatly exposes it to adverse price fluctuations, which can impact margins and thereby hurt results. (Read more: Will Dean Foods Q1 Earnings Ruin its Positive Trend? )
AramarkARMK that offers food services, facilities management, uniform and career apparel to health care institutions, universities, school districts, stadiums and businesses, is slated to report second-quarter fiscal 2016 results on May 11. In the trailing four quarters, this Philadelphia, PA-based company underperformed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by an average of 1.1%.
Our proven model does not conclusively show that Aramark is likely to beat earnings estimates this quarter. This is because a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1, 2 or 3 for this to happen. Aramark has an Earnings ESP of 0.00% as the Most Accurate estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate both stand at 34 cents. The company carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), which increases the predictive power of ESP. However, its ESP of 0.00% makes surprise prediction difficult.
Finally, let's take a look at Charlotte, NC-based Snyder's-Lance, Inc.LNCE , which manufactures, markets and distributes a variety of branded and private label snack foods and bakery products. The company, scheduled to release first-quarter 2016 results on May 10, has underperformed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by an average of 6.7% over the trailing four quarters. Further, the company, carrying a Zacks Rank #4, currently has an Earnings ESP of 0.00%, with the Most Accurate estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate both pegged at 23 cents.