5 Major Bank Stocks Set To Trump Earnings Estimates In Q4

The Q4 earnings season is knocking at the door and investors are keen to see how major banks will perform this time, after reporting impressive results in the first three quarters of 2017.

The last year has been a roller coaster ride for banks. Though the year begun on an optimistic note with high expectations from President Trump’s electoral promises, it lost some steam in the middle only to regain the bullish trend at the end.

Banks showed resilience driven by the Fed’s hawkish stance (three rate hikes in 2017) and the gradually improving U.S. economy. Also, progress on the lesser banking regulation front cheered investors.

Further, the new tax act drove the banks too. While the act will result in gains for banks over the long term, the to-be-reported quarter earnings will be adversely affected by huge one-time charges related to the changes in the tax law.

Additionally, factors that weighed on major banks’ prior-quarter results persisted in Q4 as well. These, including trading weakness, slowdown in mortgage banking and stable net interest margins, will likely hamper profitability of major banks. On top of these, the above-mentioned charges add fuel to the fire.

Also, while the absence of considerable legal expenses is a positive, increased investments in technology to improve digital offerings is expected to escalate costs moderately.

As such, major banks in the S&P 500 index (accounting for nearly 45% of the Zacks Finance sector'stotal earnings) are expected to witness a 6.3% year-over-year decline in earnings in the to-be-reported quarter. This compares unfavorably with 6.5% growth recorded in the prior quarter.

(For detailed look at the earnings outlook for this industry and others, please read our Earnings Analysis article).

Nevertheless, strength in investment banking driven by a potential rise in equity issuances (strong rally in the equity market globally) and persistent increase in debt underwriting (mainly on assumption of continuous increase in interest rates) is expected to provide respite to some extent.

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