Nearly all sectors have reached the last leg of the Q1 earnings season, with approximately 87.2% of the S&P 500 members 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. This therefore reflects an improvement in the overall corporate earnings picture.
According to the report, earnings for the 436 S&P 500 companies that have reported are down 7.5% from the same period last year, while revenues have declined 1.5%. While 71.3% companies beat earnings estimates, 56.4% have surpassed revenue expectations. The report further projects that earnings for the total S&P 500 companies will decline 6.7% from the year-ago period, and total revenue will dip 1.1%. We observe that this will be the fourth straight quarter, if the index witnesses a drop in earnings.
The performance of the index is not restricted to a single sector, and of the 16 Zacks sectors, 9 are expected to witness an earnings decline in Q1, with Basic Materials, Industrial Products, Energy and Conglomerates being a big drag. However, the Retail/Wholesale sector is showing some resilience in spite of overseas turmoil, yet-to-recover Chinese economy, fluctuating commodity prices and Fed rate-related controversies that to an extent are affecting consumers' spending behavior.
Total earnings for the Retail/Wholesale sector are expected to dip 0.1%, whereas revenues are projected to increase 4.9%. Among Retail/Wholesale stocks lined up to report, let's take a sneak peek at four companies.
Dillard's Inc.DDS is expected to report first-quarter fiscal 2016 results on May 12. In the last quarter, the company delivered a negative earnings surprise of 11.8%. Also, this departmental store chain missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in three of the last four quarters, with an average negative earnings surprise of 6.1%.
Dillard's repeated its dismal performance in fourth-quarter fiscal 2015 as both its top and bottom lines declined year over year. Also, earnings lagged expectations due to a fall in merchandise sales as well as gross margin contraction owing to higher markdowns. Management noted that sales weakness in energy producing regions and higher markdowns to revive sales persist in fiscal 2016.
Though these factors keep us on the sidelines, we are impressed with the company's focus on increasing productivity at existing stores, developing a leading omni-channel platform and enhancing its domestic operations to support results in the future.
Dillard's carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell) and has an Earnings ESP of 0.00%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the quarter is pegged at $2.62. (Read more: Dillard's: Will Markdowns Weigh on Earnings in Q1? ).
Kohl's CorporationKSS is set to report first-quarter fiscal 2016 results before the opening bell on May 12. Last quarter, this specialty retailer posted a positive earnings surprise of 1.9%. For Q1, the company expects a significant contraction in gross margin as it plans to aggressively clear excessive merchandise that resulted from lower-than-expected fourth-quarter fiscal 2015 sales. SG&A expenses in the first quarter are also expected to escalate 3-4%, mainly due to higher advertising expenses. Kohl's remains cautious about its fiscal 2016 results given the competitive retail landscape as well as cautious consumer spending.
Kohl's carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) and has an Earnings ESP of 0.00%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the quarter is pegged at 37 cents. (Read more: Will Lower Margins Dampen Kohl's Earnings in Q1? ).
Nordstrom Inc.JWN is slated to report first-quarter fiscal 2016 results on May 12. Last quarter, the company delivered a negative earnings surprise of 4.1%. In fact, the company has underperformed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by an average of 6.9% over the trailing four quarters.
After a dismal fourth quarter, Nordstrom issued a bleak outlook for fiscal 2016. Management stated that it expects earnings to nosedive approximately 30% in the first half of the fiscal year owing to the impact of the sale of credit receivables in Oct 2015, the unfavorable shift of the Anniversary sale event and costs related to various growth initiatives. Considering such a subdued outlook, we are not very optimistic about the company's first-quarter results. However, Nordstrom's customer strategy, strong brand image and continuous expansion endeavors bode well.
Nordstrom carries a Zacks Rank #4 and has an Earnings ESP of -2.22%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the quarter is pegged at 45 cents. (Read more: Nordstrom Q1 Earnings: Is a Disappointment in Store? ).