EC What Will The Q3 Earnings Season Show?

The overall earnings picture has been steadily improving over the last three months as big parts of the U.S. economy have started coming out of the pandemic-driven lockdown. The market will be looking for this improving earnings trend to accelerate in the Q3 earnings season.

The Q3 earnings season will really get going when the big banks come out with results on October 20th. The wide majority of companies have fiscal quarters that correspond with the calendar quarters, which is September 30th for Q3.

But there are almost two dozen S&P 500 members that have fiscal quarters that ended in August and four such companies, including FedEx (FDX - Free Report) and Oracle (ORCL - Free Report) have reported their fiscal August-quarter results in recent days. We and other data aggregators club the results from these four index members as part of the Q3 tally.

We have another 8 S&P 500 members on deck to report fiscal August-quarter results this week, including Nike (NKE - Free Report), Costco (COST - Free Report), General Mills (GIS - Free Report), and others. Looked at this way, the Q3 earnings season has gotten underway already.

The expectation is for total S&P 500 earnings to decline -23.4% from the same period last year -3.1% lower revenues. This would follow the -32.5% decline in Q2 when economic and business activities came to a halt as a result of the pandemic driven lockdowns.

The earnings outlook has been steadily improving since the start of Q3, as economic and business activities have resumed. The chart below of how estimates for 2020 Q3 have evolved since early July, clearly showing that the revisions trend has turned positive.

The positive revisions trend is not restricted to Q3, but also for Q4 and beyond. Estimates have started moving up again in recent days, after staying essentially stable through most of August and the first week of September. The chart below shows the revisions trend for full-year 2020.

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