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Earnings Preview

Earnings Season in the Rearview Mirror

We are in a somewhat of a dead-zone on the data front this week, with the Q4 earnings season effectively over and not much on the economic calendar either. For the record, the earnings season isn’t officially over yet as we will get results from more than 180 companies this week, including 2 S&P 500 members. But with results from 495 S&P 500 members already out, the Q4 earnings picture is pretty much carved in stone.

The focus lately had been on economic data. But aside from Friday’s jobs report, it has been one persistent ‘blame-the-weather’ narrative. A number of recent earnings reports have been scapegoating the weather as well, but the reason they could that is that they have mostly been from the retail sector.

It was a tough reporting season for the retail sector. Not only has earnings and revenue growth for the sector been the weakest relative to recent quarters, but most companies have guided lower for the current period as well. Total earnings for the sector were expected to be up +1.1% in Q4 at the start of the reporting cycle in early January, but actual growth has been a decline of -2.3%.

Not much is expected to improve in the current period as well, as the chart below of earnings expectations for 2014 Q1 shows.

 In fairness to Retail, they are hardly the only one suffering negative estimate revisions, as 2014 Q1 estimates for most of the other sectors have been moving in that direction as well. As has been the case for more than a year now, the predominant tone of management guidance was negative this earnings season as well, prompting estimates for Q1 to come down. Total Q1 earnings for the S&P 500 were expected to be up +2.1% at the start of the Q4 reporting season in early January has now dropped to a decline of -1.5%.

Q4 Earnings Scorecard (as of Friday, 3/7/2014)

Total earnings for the 495 S&P 500 members that have reported already, combined accounting for 99.7% of the index’s total market capitalization,  are up +9.2% from the same period last year, with a ‘beat ratio’ of 64.2% and a median surprise of +2.4%. Total revenues are barely in the positive column, up only +0.7%, with a revenue ‘beat ratio’ of 56.2% and a median surprise of +0.6%.

More companies have beat earnings and revenue expectations than has been the case in recent quarters, as the chart below shows. Perhaps expectations had fallen a bit low ahead of the Q4 reporting season.

The earnings growth rate for these 495 companies is better than what we saw from this same group of companies in Q3 and the 4-quarer average. A big contributor to the strong Q4 earnings growth is easy comparisons for three companies – Bank of America (BAC), Verizon (VZ - Analyst Report), and Travelers (TRV - Analyst Report). Exclude these three companies and total earnings growth for the S&P 500 companies that have reported drops to +5.5% from the ‘headline’ +9.2%, which is about where growth has been in recent quarters.

The revenue growth rate is notably weak, but that’s primarily because of the Finance and Energy sectors.


Prudential Financial (PRU - Analyst Report) had an unusually large top-line gain in the year-earlier quarter and is a big reason for the Finance sector’s -7.1% drop in reported revenues. Excluding these two sectors, total revenue growth for the S&P 500 improves to +3%, compared to growth rates of +3.3% for the same group of companies in Q3 and the 4-quarter average of +2.5%. What this means is that top-line growth is weak, but it’s not as weak as the ‘headline’ +0.7% gain would make you believe.  

The Composite Growth Picture

The ‘composite’ picture for Q4, where we combine results from the 495 companies that have reported already with the 5 still to come, is for growth rate of +9.2%. This will be the highest quarterly growth pace of 2013, with easy comparisons playing a non-trivial role in propping up the growth pace. The +9.2% growth rate compares to +5.0% in Q3 and +4.0% in Q2.

Finance remains a big growth driver in Q4 – total earnings growth for the S&P 500 in Q4 drop to +6.4% once the sector is excluded. Energy continues to be a drag on aggregate growth, with total earnings for the sector expected to be down -10.6% in Q4 after declining -8.4% in Q3. Excluding the Energy sector, total Q4 earnings for the S&P 500 would be up +12.1% vs. +6.9% in Q3.  

Technology earnings are expected be up +5.0% after the +5.6% gain in Q3. While Google (GOOG) and Facebook (FB - Analyst Report) did extremely well, the sector overall has had a good earnings season as well. With Q4 results from 100% of the sector’s total market capitalization already out, total earnings for the sector are up +5.0% on +4.5% higher revenues. These growth rates aren’t materially different from what we saw from this same group of companies in Q3, but the beat ratios are notably better, indicating that expectations may have fallen a bit too low in the run up to the start of the reporting season.

Of the Tech sector companies that have reported already (65 out of 65 Tech sector companies in the S&P 500 accounting for 100% of the sector’s total market cap have reported results), 76.9% have beat earnings expectations, up from Q3’s 72.3% earnings beat ratio and the 4-quarter average of 72.7%. Positive revenue surprises have been materially widespread relative to recent quarters as well, with Q4 revenue beat ratio currently tracking 66.2% vs. 66.2% in Q3 and the 4-quarter average of 56.9%.  

Lack of corporate capital spending has been an issue for the sector for some time and the consensus view is that we will see a turnaround on that front later this year. We haven’t heard anything yet that will add to our confidence in that expectation. But this optimistic view is a big contributor to the expected upturn in the Tech sector’s growth estimate later this year. Total earnings for the sector are expected to be up +10.1% this year and +11.1% in 2015, pronounced acceleration from the flat reading in 2013.

For a detailed look at the Q4 earnings season and the overall earnings picture, please check out our weekly Earnings Trends report.

Monday-3/10

  • Nothing major on the economic calendar.
  • Urban Outfitter (URBN - Analyst Report), Casey General Stores (CASY) and United Natural Foods (UNFI - Analyst Report) are the only notable earnings releases today, all after the close.
  • Zacks Earnings ESP, or Expected Surprise Prediction, our proprietary leading indicator of earnings surprises, is showing UNFI coming out an earnings beat.
  • Companies with Zacks Rank of 1, 2 or 3 and positive Earnings ESP are highly likely to come out with positive earnings surprises. United Natural Foods has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) and Earnings ESP of +3.6%.
  • To get a better understanding of Zacks Earnings Surprise Predictor, please click here.

Tuesday -3/11

  • Not much on the economic calendar.
  • Bon-Ton Stores (BONT) and Dicks Sporting Goods (DKS) are the only notable earnings reports in the morning, while Caesar’s Entertainment (CZR) will report after the close.
  • With a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) and Earnings ESP of +0.9%, Dicks Sporting is expected to come out with an earnings beat.

Wednesday-3/12

Thursday -3/13

  • In addition to weekly Jobless Claims, we will get the February Retail Sales numbers in the morning. The expectation is for ex-Autos Retail Sales to be up +0.2% in February after the flat finish in January.
  • Dollar General (DG) and Kirklands (KIRK - Analyst Report) are the only notable reports in the morning, while Aeorpostale (ARO) will report after the close.

Friday-3/14

  • The February PPI and the preliminary March Consumer Sentiment survey from the University of Michigan will be coming out.
  • Buckle (BKE), Citi Trends (CTRN) and Hibbett Sports (HIBB - Analyst Report) are the only notable companies reporting result today.

Here is a list of the 185 companies reporting this week, including 2 S&P 500 members.

Company Ticker Current Qtr Year-Ago Qtr Last EPS Surprise % Report Day Time
URBAN OUTFITTER URBN 0.55 0.56 4.44 Monday AMC
ATLAS FINL HLDG AFH 0.21 0.21 -5.26 Monday AMC
AMER MIDSTREAM AMID -0.41 -0.48 -105 Monday AMC
CASEYS GEN STRS CASY 0.5 0.42 -6.19 Monday AMC
CNINSURE IN-ADR CISG 0.1 0.05 N/A Monday AMC
ENDEAVOUR SILVR EXK 0.1 0.13 140 Monday AMC
FUELCELL ENERGY FCEL -0.04 -0.07 -66.67 Monday AMC
FERRELLGAS -LP FGP 0.89 0.72 -82.35 Monday BTO
FULL HOUSE RESO FLL -0.04 0.02 -66.67 Monday BTO
FORTEGA FIN CP FRF 0.23 0.2 -18.18 Monday AMC
GLOBALSTAR INC GSAT -0.05 -0.06 -300 Monday AMC
HILL INTL INC HIL 0.01 -0.04 50 Monday AMC
CELLULAR DY INT ICEL -0.3 N/A -87.88 Monday N/A
LIMONEIRA CO LMNR -0.16 -0.28 14.29 Monday AMC
LIPOSCIENCE INC LPDX -0.22 0.02 -55 Monday AMC
MEDIFAST INC MED 0.37 0.28 0 Monday AMC
NUVERRA ENV SOL NES -0.47 -0.1 -50 Monday AMC
NMI HOLDINGS-A NMIH -0.17 N/A N/A Monday AMC
NOVAVAX INC NVAX -0.08 -0.07 -50 Monday AMC
ONCONOVA THERAP ONTX -0.98 N/A -71.79 Monday AMC
DOUGLAS DYNAMIC PLOW 0.25 -0.05 -86.36 Monday AMC
POWERSECURE INT POWR 0.09 0.13 6.25 Monday AMC
PERFECT WORLD PWRD 0.44 0.42 5.41 Monday AMC
RESOLUTE ENERGY REN 0.06 0.01 0 Monday BTO
SIGA TECH INC SIGA 0.62 -0.06 -110.34 Monday AMC
SUMMIT MIDSTRM SMLP 0.33 0.35 -61.29 Monday AMC
TICC CAPITAL CP TICC 0.28 0.23 -18.52 Monday BTO
UTD NATURAL FDS UNFI 0.56 0.46 3.7 Monday AMC
AMER EAGLE OUTF AEO 0.26 0.55 5.56 Tuesday BTO
ARCOS DORADOS-A ARCO 0.16 0.21 -30.77 Tuesday BTO
BON-TON STORES BONT 2.69 3.72 90 Tuesday BTO
BRIDGEPOINT EDU BPI 0.03 0.29 -33.33 Tuesday BTO
CLEVELAND BIOLB CBLI -0.12 -0.12 14.29 Tuesday BTO
COMPASS DIVERSF CODI 0.27 0.31 -32.43 Tuesday AMC
CAPITALA FIN CP CPTA 0.42 N/A 31.25 Tuesday BTO
CYTORI THERAPEU CYTX -0.12 -0.09 27.27 Tuesday AMC
CAESARS ENTERTN CZR -1.45 -1.15 -0.8 Tuesday AMC
DICKS SPRTG GDS DKS 1.11 1.03 2.56 Tuesday BTO
DIAMOND FOODS DMND 0.08 0.05 28.57 Tuesday AMC
E-HOUSE CHINA EJ 0.15 0.03 112.5 Tuesday BTO
EMAGIN CORP EMAN 0 0.04 -33.33 Tuesday AMC
EVOLVING SYSTEM EVOL 0.03 0.13 700 Tuesday AMC
FOX FACTORY HLD FOXF 0.13 N/A 22.22 Tuesday AMC
FURIEX PHARMACT FURX -1.05 -0.9 36.09 Tuesday AMC
GLOBAL CASH ACS GCA 0.2 0.13 -19.05 Tuesday AMC
GENMARK DIAGNST GNMK -0.23 -0.13 14.29 Tuesday AMC
GSI GROUP INC GSIG 0.13 0.1 50 Tuesday AMC
GRAY TELEVSN GTN 0.09 0.48 0 Tuesday BTO
HORIZON TECHNOL HRZN 0.36 0.36 5.88 Tuesday AMC
CHINA LODGING HTHT 0.1 0.05 6.45 Tuesday AMC
CHIPMOS TEC LTD IMOS 0.28 0.28 19.51 Tuesday BTO
INTER PARFUMS IPAR -0.14 0.21 212.5 Tuesday AMC
WILEY (JOHN) A JW.A 0.84 0.93 12 Tuesday BTO
KOPIN CORP KOPN -0.19 -0.08 0 Tuesday AMC
KRATOS DEFENSE KTOS 0.06 0.15 100 Tuesday AMC
SPRINGLEAF HLDG LEAF 0.46 N/A N/A Tuesday BTO
MIDSTATES PETRO MPO 0.18 0.08 -133.33 Tuesday AMC
MAGNACHIP SEMI MX 0.36 0.76 5.63 Tuesday AMC
NCI BLDG SYSTEM NCS 0 -0.19 42.86 Tuesday AMC
NN INC NNBR 0.26 0.16 3.57 Tuesday BTO
NORTEK INC NTK 0.07 -0.15 -67.07 Tuesday AMC
ONCOGENEX PHARM OGXI -0.62 -0.39 1.45 Tuesday AMC
VERIFONE SYSTMS PAY 0.15 0.4 -27.78 Tuesday AMC
PARK OHIO HLDNG PKOH 1.12 0.63 -7 Tuesday BTO
REGIONAL MANAGE RM 0.66 0.52 1.67 Tuesday AMC
RENTECH NITROGN RNF 0 0.48 -13.64 Tuesday AMC
RENTECH INC RTK -0.02 -0.02 400 Tuesday N/A
SAGA COMMS-CL A SGA 0.71 1.02 -1.32 Tuesday N/A
SYNTA PHARMACT SNTA -0.31 -0.29 2.94 Tuesday BTO
SUNSHINE HEART SSH -0.42 -0.44 -17.5 Tuesday BTO
SUMMER INFANT SUMR -0.09 -0.09 -600 Tuesday AMC
ADDUS HOMECARE ADUS 0.25 0.33 8.7 Wednesday AMC
ADECCO SA U-ADR AHEXY N/A N/A N/A Wednesday N/A
AMEDISYS INC AMED -0.03 0.23 -107.14 Wednesday BTO
ARC LOGISTICS ARCX 0.28 N/A 300 Wednesday AMC
AMERICAN RES PR ARPI 0.09 N/A 50 Wednesday AMC
ABRAXAS PETE/NV AXAS 0.04 -0.03 125 Wednesday BTO
BROADWIND ENRGY BWEN -0.16 -0.37 8.33 Wednesday BTO
MAGICJACK VOCTC CALL 0.5 0.86 61.9 Wednesday AMC
MAJESCO ENTMNT COOL -0.08 -0.03 -100 Wednesday AMC
CALLON PETE-DEL CPE 0 0.01 250 Wednesday AMC
CRESCENT PT EGY CPG 0.25 -0.22 -53.33 Wednesday BTO
CTPARTNERS EXEC CTP 0.08 -0.02 -12.5 Wednesday AMC
DELCATH SYS INC DCTH -0.05 -0.16 12.5 Wednesday AMC
DEUTSCHE PST AG DPSGY 0.61 0.58 -31.91 Wednesday N/A
DRESSER-RAND GP DRC 1.29 1.05 -16.18 Wednesday BTO
E.ON AG-ADR EONGY N/A N/A N/A Wednesday N/A
EMERALD OIL INC EOX -0.03 -0.22 23.53 Wednesday AMC
ESSEX RENTAL ESSX -0.09 -0.12 -33.33 Wednesday AMC
EXPRESS INC EXPR 0.59 0.75 -8 Wednesday BTO
GARRISON CAPITL GARS 0.34 N/A -22.22 Wednesday AMC
GERON CORP GERN -0.06 -0.1 0 Wednesday AMC
CHC GROUP LTD HELI -0.43 N/A N/A Wednesday AMC
HOME INNS&HOTEL HMIN 0.18 0.26 42.5 Wednesday AMC
INVESTORS RL ES IRET 0.16 0.16 -5.88 Wednesday AMC
JONES ENERGY-A JONE 0.27 N/A -17.14 Wednesday AMC
KRISPY KREME KKD 0.13 0.11 0 Wednesday AMC
KMG CHEMICALS KMG N/A 0.14 -4.35 Wednesday BTO
MATADOR RESOURC MTDR 0.28 -0.02 50 Wednesday AMC
VAIL RESORTS MTN 1.91 1.65 -6.25 Wednesday AMC
NOBLE ROMANS NROM N/A 0 N/A Wednesday AMC
NEVSUN RESOURCS NSU 0.01 0.1 100 Wednesday AMC
OREXIGEN THERAP OREX -0.19 -0.41 -11.76 Wednesday AMC
PROVIDENCE SVC PRSC 0.31 0.22 8.7 Wednesday AMC
QIWI PLC-ADR QIWI 0.28 N/A 41.67 Wednesday BTO
RAVEN INDS INC RAVN 0.32 0.3 13.33 Wednesday BTO
SUPERNUS PHARMA SUPN -0.54 -0.51 1.52 Wednesday AMC
TAOMEE HOLDINGS TAOM -0.02 0.06 500 Wednesday BTO
TELIASONERA-ADR TLSNY N/A 0.5 -12.5 Wednesday N/A
ULTRAPETROL LTD ULTR 0 -0.26 -40 Wednesday AMC
UMH PROPERTIES UMH 0.11 0.62 -33.33 Wednesday N/A
WILLIAMS-SONOMA WSM 1.35 1.34 7.41 Wednesday AMC
DOLLAR GENERAL DG 1.01 0.97 2.86 Thursday BTO
AAON INC AAON 0.21 0.21 7.69 Thursday AMC
ADV EMISSIONS ADES 0.05 -0.47 245.45 Thursday AMC
AMERICAN HM 4 R AMH 0.12 N/A 12.5 Thursday AMC
AMERESCO INC-A AMRC 0.22 0.13 -47.37 Thursday BTO
ANACOR PHARMACT ANAC 1.34 -0.36 -13.89 Thursday AMC
AEROPOSTALE INC ARO -0.3 0.24 -16 Thursday AMC
AASTROM BIOSCI ASTM -1 -4 94.67 Thursday AMC
ATHERSYS INC ATHX -0.12 -0.09 16.67 Thursday AMC
ANTARES PHARMA ATRS -0.05 -0.04 -25 Thursday BTO
AVEO PHARMACEUT AVEO -0.4 -0.45 -14.63 Thursday AMC
AV HOMES INC AVHI -0.18 -0.57 0 Thursday AMC
BRIGHT HORZN FS BFAM 0.3 -2.39 0 Thursday AMC
BIOAMBER INC BIOA N/A N/A N/A Thursday AMC
BAYTEX ENERGY BTE 0.39 0.25 26.42 Thursday BTO
CBEYOND INC CBEY -0.14 -0.19 -125 Thursday AMC
CHRISTOPHER&BNK CBK -0.03 -0.11 76.92 Thursday BTO
CHEMOCENTRYX CCXI -0.24 -0.28 15.38 Thursday AMC
CELSION CORP CLSN -0.25 -0.95 -13.04 Thursday BTO
COUNTERPATH CP CPAH -0.01 -0.01 -150 Thursday BTO
CATCHMARK TB TR CTT -0.2 N/A N/A Thursday AMC
DELHAIZE-LE DEG N/A -1.91 -179.1 Thursday N/A
ERICKSON AIR-CR EAC 0.07 -0.03 -18.88 Thursday AMC
ENGILITY HLDGS EGL 0.73 0.77 12.68 Thursday AMC
EMERGE ENRG SVC EMES 0.67 N/A 4.92 Thursday N/A
GENESCO INC GCO 2.18 2.16 4.38 Thursday BTO
GOGO INC GOGO -0.27 N/A 26.67 Thursday BTO
GRAMERCY PROPRT GPT N/A -2.35 N/A Thursday BTO
GLOBAL SRCS-LTD GSOL 0.16 0.35 7.14 Thursday BTO
GASTAR EXPL LTD GST 0.08 0.07 -70 Thursday AMC
GSV CAPITAL CP GSVC -0.02 -0.14 -633.33 Thursday AMC
HAWAIIAN TELCOM HCOM 0.37 0.73 0 Thursday N/A
HORIZON PHARMA HZNP -0.06 -0.38 73.08 Thursday N/A
IDERA PHARMACT IDRA -0.08 -0.25 21.05 Thursday BTO
IMMUNOCELLULAR IMUC -0.1 -0.05 50 Thursday AMC
KIOR INC-A KIOR -0.4 -0.28 -11.76 Thursday BTO
KIRKLANDS INC KIRK 0.67 0.79 200 Thursday BTO
KRONOS WORLDWD KRO 0.01 -0.15 -600 Thursday AMC
LUXFER HOLDINGS LXFR 0.37 0.46 -5.71 Thursday AMC
METHODE ELECT-A MEI 0.39 0.09 -62.86 Thursday BTO
MATTRESS FIRM MFRM 0.29 0.3 1.85 Thursday AMC
NATURAL GAS SVC NGS 0.3 0.29 -15.63 Thursday BTO
OCERA THERAPEUT OCRX -0.07 -2.16 -345.83 Thursday AMC
ONCOTHYREON INC ONTY -0.11 -0.12 -9.09 Thursday AMC
ORBCOMM INC ORBC 0.04 0.04 0 Thursday BTO
PROGENICS PHARM PGNX -0.19 -0.01 19.05 Thursday BTO
PHOTOMEDEX INC PHMD 0.38 0.27 -88.24 Thursday BTO
PLUG POWER INC PLUG -0.08 -0.22 -12.5 Thursday BTO
PURE BIOSCIENCE PURE -0.05 -0.17 0 Thursday AMC
QAD INC-A QADA 0.15 0.13 8.33 Thursday AMC
REXFORD IND RTY REXR 0.16 N/A N/A Thursday AMC
REGADO BIOSCI RGDO -0.41 N/A -240.48 Thursday BTO
SURGICAL CARE SCAI -0.14 N/A N/A Thursday AMC
SEAWORLD ENTERT SEAS -0.16 N/A 12.71 Thursday AMC
SENOMYX INC SNMX -0.06 -0.06 -50 Thursday BTO
TAHOE RESOURCES TAHO -0.09 -0.18 -10 Thursday AMC
JTH HOLDING INC TAX 0.08 0.08 -15.79 Thursday BTO
TEARLAB CORP TEAR -0.13 -0.12 14.29 Thursday N/A
ULTA SALON COSM ULTA 1.07 1 -2.7 Thursday AMC
XO GROUP INC XOXO 0.11 0.13 33.33 Thursday AMC
ZUMIEZ INC ZUMZ 0.61 0.75 0 Thursday AMC
ANN INC ANN 0.07 0.05 2.3 Friday BTO
DIVERSIFIED RST BAGR 0.01 -0.03 -100 Friday BTO
BUCKLE INC BKE 1.21 1.28 -5.56 Friday BTO
BROWN SHOE CO BWS 0.08 0.14 1.64 Friday BTO
CITI TRENDS INC CTRN 0.1 -0.01 5.56 Friday BTO
DESTINATION XL DXLG -0.03 0.12 11.11 Friday BTO
EBIX INC EBIX 0.31 0.48 3.03 Friday BTO
FUEL SYSTEM SOL FSYS 0.03 0.01 25 Friday BTO
HIBBET SPORTS HIBB 0.69 0.73 1.54 Friday BTO
METALICO INC MEA 0 -0.06 122.22 Friday BTO
PLY GEM HOLDING PGEM -0.24 N/A 3.45 Friday BTO
STONEMOR PTNRS STON -0.12 -0.2 30 Friday BTO

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