Second quarter earnings season is about to begin, and nobody has much expectation for good news. Analysts across the board expect earnings to shrink, brining back the first profit recession since 2016. Materials, technology, and consumer discretionary are set to get hit the hardest, but the majority of sectors are likely to see losses. Analysts estimate the average earnings decline for the S&P 500 will be 2.8%.
FINSUM: It will be interesting to se if this has any effect on stocks. Given it is so telegraphed, we don’t think there will be a big impact unless the losses are much steeper than expected.
There is a big new risk to stocks to worry about, says Goldman Sachs. Actually, it is a not a new risk, it is an old one that investors have not been thinking about. The risk? Pay. The bank says that rising pay pressure from workers could hurt companies at all levels and eat into margins. The labor market is incredibly tight, which puts upward pressure on pay and downward pressure on corporate margins. Wage growth is already at its highest rate since 2007, and companies may feel the sting. According to Goldman, “While S&P 500 profit margins are at historical highs, survey data indicates a record level of corporate concern regarding labor costs”.
FINSUM: Many analysts have been predicting an earnings recession and this is one of the factors that could exacerbate it.
Earnings recessions don’t always hurt that much, but they don’t help. Just look at the 2015-2016 period, when earnings didn’t perform well. Markets didn’t lose much, but they were mostly flat. Now we are re-entering that paradigm, as many companies are cutting earnings and it looks like the first earnings recession in three years is coming. Earnings are very likely to fall in the second quarter, with average analyst estimates calling for a nearly 3% decline across the board. So far, 20 of the S&P 500’s companies have reported and the average earnings fall has been 15%.
FINSUM: A bigger than expected decline in earnings could seriously change the risk-reward outlook of markets. This seems like an important risk right now.
Want to forecast at where Apple’s stock price is headed? There is a good trick for doing so. The method is to look at the earnings and share price moves of Apple’s suppliers. About a third of suppliers report earnings before Apple does, and many of them derive a high portion of their sales from the company. Therefore, one can fairly well predict Apple’s earnings and likely moves. For instance, Apple has been on a tear since its earnings on Tuesday, and it would have been easy to see from the previously released supplier earnings.
FINSUM: This will not always work and some of the value is probably eaten up by algorithmic traders, but still, it seems a good predictive indicator.
Goldman Sachs investors took it on the chin this week. Earnings numbers just released look pretty grim, especially as compared to some other banks, like JP Morgan, which had good showings. The bank got hit by a triple whammy of lower trading revenues, weaker private equity profits, and lower fees from investment banking, all of which conspired to bring earnings down by 20% in the first quarter. David Solomon, CEO, is promising the company is undertaking a “front to back” performance review of Goldman’s businesses.
FINSUM: This looks particularly poor because JP Morgan was able to achieve the highest ever quarterly profit of a US bank during the same period.