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As Q1 Winds Down, Economic News is in the Forefront

With the Q1 earnings season effectively over and the next reporting cycle a few weeks away, earnings aren’t the focus this week. The spotlight is on the economy, with the May non-farm payroll report coming out on Friday. This jobs report isn’t expected to be as strong as the last one when 288K jobs were created.

Payback for the weak readings during the Winter months gave us a bumper jobs tally in April, while the gains this month are expected to reflect a more ‘normalized’ labor market reading. The consensus expectation is of 200K jobs gains on Friday. But with initial jobless claims now at a 7-year low, the risk to consensus estimates is to the upside.  

A small number of 2014 Q1 results are still awaited, with this week’s reporting docket comprised of 52 companies coming out with results, including 5 S&P 500 members. The notable companies reporting results this week include Dollar General (DG - Analyst Report), PVH Corp (PVH - Analyst Report), JM Smucker (SJM - Analyst Report), Joy Global (JOY - Analyst Report) and others.

After this week, we will have seen Q1 results from 497 S&P 500 and will be getting ready to (officially) close the books on this reporting cycle. We will start tracking the Q2 earnings season in the second half of June with the earnings announcements from FedEx (FDX - Analyst Report) and Oracle (ORCL - Analyst Report).

Scorecard for 2014 Q1 (as of Friday, May 30th)

Total earnings for the 492 S&P 500 members that have reported results are up 1.3% from the same period last year, with a ‘beat ratio’ of 67.5% and a median surprise of +3.9%. Total revenues are up +2.7%, with a revenue ‘beat ratio’ of 51.6% and the median company beating top-line expectations by 0.1%.

The table below shows the current scorecard for all 16 Zacks sectors. As you can see, the earnings season has come to an end for 11 of the 16 Zacks sectors, with results from just 1.6% of the index’s total market capitalization still awaited.

The chart below shows how the earnings and revenue growth rates for Q1 thus far compare to what these same companies reported in 2013 Q4 and the 4-quarter average.

 

The Q1 earnings growth picture is no doubt weak. But we should keep two things in mind while evaluating this growth picture. Firstly, it wasn’t news to the market, as expectations had fallen sharply ahead of the start of the reporting season. As such, as shocking as the above picture seems to be, nobody was exactly shocked at seeing them. Secondly, the growth picture actually isn’t as bad as the above picture is making it out to be once the drag from the Finance sector (which itself is a function of weak results at Bank of America) is excluded from the aggregate results.

The comparison chart below of ex-Finance results clearly shows this.

This chart of ex-Finance growth is showing that the earnings and revenue growth rates in Q1 are roughly comparable to historical averages. Nothing exciting about that finding, but it is actually an improvement over what was expected just a couple of weeks back.

Looking at the composite Q1 picture, meaning combining the actual results from the 492 companies that have reported with estimates for the 8 still-to-come reports, total earnings are expected to be up 1.3% on +2.7% higher revenues. The table below presents the (composite) summary picture for Q1, showing the year-over-year change in total earnings, revenues and margins for all 16 Zacks sectors.

 

As we saw in the Q1 results, the low expectations made it easy for companies to come out ahead of them. Roughly two-thirds of the S&P 500 members beat earnings expectations every quarter any way and we are right around that level in Q1 as well. What we haven’t seen for a while is positive guidance and favorable comments from management teams about business outlook. And Q1 is largely along those same lines, causing estimates for the current period to come down, as the chart below of evolving Q2 estimates shows.

 

The downtrend in Q2 estimates is consistent with the trend that has been in place for almost two years now. Stocks made impressive gains over the last two years even though estimates were coming down during that time period, with the Fed QE keeping alive hopes of an eventual growth recovery. It will be interesting to see if investors will respond any differently to the coming period of negative revisions.  

For a detailed look at the earnings picture, please check out our weekly Earnings Tends report.

Monday-6/2

  • The May manufacturing ISM report will be coming out, with expectations for a 55.8 reading, up from April’s 54.9 level.
  • Conns (CONN - Snapshot Report) is the only notable earnings release in the morning, while Krispy Kreme (KKD - Snapshot Report) will report after the close.   

Tuesday -6/3

  • We will get the April Factory Orders and May motor vehicle sales readings.
  • Dollar General (DG - Analyst Report) and G-III Apparel (GIII - Snapshot Report) will release Q1 results in the morning, while ABM Industries (ABM) will report after the close.

Wednesday-6/4

  • A buy day on the economic calendar, with May ADP jobs and service-sector ISM and April Trade Deficit reports coming out.
  • Brown Forman (BF.B) and Hovnanian Enterprises (HOV - Snapshot Report) will report Q1 results in the morning, while PVH Corp. (PVH - Analyst Report) will report after the close.

Thursday -6/5

Friday-6/6

  • Will get the May non-farm payroll report in the morning, with consensus expectations of ‘headline’ gains of 200K vs. 288K in April. The unemployment rate is expected to tick up to 6.4% from April’s 6.3% level.

Here is a list of the 52 companies reporting this week, including 5 S&P 500 members.

Company Ticker Current Qtr Year-Ago Qtr Last EPS Surprise % Report Day Time
CONNS INC CONN 0.73 0.61 -5.13 Monday BTO
CALAVO GROWERS CVGW 0.36 0.19 0 Monday BTO
GUIDEWIRE SFTWR GWRE -0.13 -0.05 93.33 Monday AMC
KRISPY KREME KKD 0.23 0.2 -7.69 Monday AMC
QUIKSILVER INC ZQK -0.03 -0.12 -66.67 Monday AMC
DOLLAR GENERAL DG 0.73 0.71 0 Tuesday BTO
ABM INDUSTRIES ABM 0.4 0.36 0 Tuesday AMC
AMBARELLA INC AMBA 0.13 0.16 63.64 Tuesday AMC
AMER WOODMARK AMWD 0.44 0.34 -35.71 Tuesday BTO
ASCENA RETAIL ASNA 0.19 0.26 15 Tuesday AMC
CORPBANCA -ADR BCA 0.39 0.27 -4.17 Tuesday AMC
JIAYUAN.COM INT DATE -0.12 0.04 100 Tuesday AMC
FUELCELL ENERGY FCEL -0.03 -0.04 0 Tuesday AMC
G-III APPAREL GIII -0.16 0.05 31.91 Tuesday BTO
MATTRESS FIRM MFRM 0.35 0.38 3.45 Tuesday AMC
MITCHAM INDS MIND 0.31 0.48 -1300 Tuesday AMC
EPLUS INC PLUS 1.03 0.95 N/A Tuesday AMC
RENTRAK CORP RENT -0.05 -0.17 76.92 Tuesday AMC
BROWN FORMAN B BF.B 0.59 0.45 9.33 Wednesday BTO
PVH CORP PVH 1.49 1.91 -0.69 Wednesday AMC
BAZAARVOICE INC BV -0.15 -0.2 27.27 Wednesday AMC
CYBERONICS INC CYBX 0.55 0.46 4.08 Wednesday BTO
FIVE BELOW INC FIVE 0.06 0.05 4.44 Wednesday AMC
GREIF INC GEF 0.68 0.7 5.66 Wednesday AMC
HOVNANIAN ENTRP HOV 0.01 0.01 -240 Wednesday BTO
LEIDOS HOLDINGS LDOS 0.54 0.92 24.44 Wednesday BTO
REALD INC RLD -0.22 -0.06 88.89 Wednesday AMC
CHINA XINIYA FS XNY N/A 0.09 -50 Wednesday AMC
JOY GLOBAL INC JOY 0.7 1.73 -23.44 Thursday BTO
SMUCKER JM SJM 1.16 1.29 -0.6 Thursday BTO
ANALOGIC CORP ALOG 1.2 0.65 -17.21 Thursday AMC
BIO REFERNC LAB BRLI 0.33 0.41 -21.43 Thursday BTO
CIENA CORP CIEN 0.03 -0.08 300 Thursday BTO
COMTECH TELECOM CMTL 0.23 0.17 23.08 Thursday AMC
COOPER COS COO 1.61 1.5 1.38 Thursday AMC
DIAMOND FOODS DMND 0.16 0.05 12.5 Thursday AMC
HOOKER FURNITUR HOFT 0.22 0.23 -8.7 Thursday N/A
MIX TELEMATICS MIXT 0.09 N/A 44.44 Thursday BTO
VAIL RESORTS MTN 2.93 2.66 -16.23 Thursday AMC
NAVISTAR INTL NAV -1.28 -4.39 -49.68 Thursday BTO
QUANEX BLDG PRD NX 0.01 -0.2 -75 Thursday BTO
VERIFONE SYSTMS PAY 0.21 0.36 33.33 Thursday AMC
RALLY SOFTWARE RALY -0.57 -0.98 19.35 Thursday AMC
SEACHANGE INTL SEAC -0.02 0 116.67 Thursday AMC
SELECTICA INC SLTC -0.44 -0.61 -37.5 Thursday AMC
THOR INDS INC THO 1.11 0.82 -13.51 Thursday AMC
TITAN MACHINERY TITN -0.08 -0.02 94.44 Thursday BTO
UTI WORLDWIDE UTIW -0.03 0.02 -275 Thursday BTO
VINCE HOLDNG CP VNCE 0 N/A 4.55 Thursday BTO
VERA BRADLEY VRA 0.13 0.23 4.35 Thursday BTO
ZOES KITCHEN ZOES -0.03 N/A N/A Thursday AMC
KMG CHEMICALS KMG N/A 0.25 -4.35 Friday BTO

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