Earnings Growth Returns, Will It Continue?

Apple is expected to report $3.22 in earnings on $76.2 billion in revenues, which compare to $3.28 on $75.9 billion in revenues in the year-earlier period. The stock is up +9.7% since November 8th vs. +7% for the S&P 500 index and +6.1% for the Zacks Technology sector. December quarter estimates have been stable in recent days, though they have come down for the March quarter.  

Wednesday – 2/01/2017Facebook (FB) is the most high profile of the 27 index members reporting results today (it will report after the market’s close). The focus will be on the social media giant’s ad revenues and daily active users, but the current Zacks Consensus EPS estimate is $1.13 on $8.4 billion in revenues. This compares to EPS of $0.59 on $5.8 billion in revenues in the year-earlier period. Estimates have modestly inched up in recent days. The stock has performed in-line with the Zacks Tech sector since November 8th, up +6.3% vs. +6.1%.

Thursday – 2/02/2017: On a busy reporting day with 35 index members coming out with Q4 results (23 in the morning & 12 after the market’s close), the notable reports are from CME Group (CME) and International Paper (IP) in the morning and Amazon (AMZN) in the evening.

Amazon is expected to report $1.41 in earnings (up +41.5% year over year) on $44.8 billion in revenues (up +25.4% in revenues). Estimates have come down ahead of the earnings report, but Amazon has never really been an EPS story; it is all top-line growth, particularly gains in its cloud business, Amazon Web Services. Amazon, along with Microsoft (MSFT), which came out with impressive cloud numbers of its own, has staked a well-regarded claim to leadership in the fast-growing cloud business. The stock has been a strong performer over the past year, up +31.4% vs. +12.4% gain for the Zacks Retail sector. 

Friday – 2/03/2017AutoNation (AN) and Hershey (HSY) are the notable reports today, both in the morning.

Q4 Expectations As a Whole

For Q4 as a whole, combining the actual results from the 170 S&P 500 members that have reported with estimates for the still-to-come 330 companies, total earnings are expected to be up +5.2% from the same period last year on +4.0% higher revenues. This would follow the +3.8% growth in Q3 earnings on +2.3% higher revenues, the first instance of positive earnings growth for the index after five quarters of back-to-back declines. Comparisons for the Energy sector, a big driver of the earnings recession, turn positive in Q4, with the sector’s earnings growth turning positive for the first time after 8 quarters of declines.

The chart below shows the Q3 earnings growth contrasted with declines in the preceding five quarters. As you can see in the chart below, the growth pace is expected to ramp up in 2017.

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Note: Sheraz Mian regularly provides earnings analysis on Zacks.com and appears frequently in the print and electronic media. In addition to this Earnings Preview ...

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Chee Hin Teh 4 years ago Member's comment

Thanks for sharing