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Making Sense of the Earnings Picture

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The Covid-19 pandemic dealt a severe below to the U.S. economy and corporate profitability. The full extent of the pandemic’s earnings impact is becoming clearer as we enter the final stages of the Q2 earnings season. As would be expected during a downturn, earnings and revenue growth has suffered. But there are clear signs of improvement on the horizon as well, which should reassure market participants that had piled into stocks following the March 23rd lows, partly on expectations of such an improvement.

In the spirit of a picture-being-worth-a-thousand-words, we are using the charts below to tell story that emerges from the Q2 earnings season.

Please note that through Friday, August 7th, we have seen Q2 results from 445 S&P 500 members or 89% of the index’s total membership. We have another 12 index members on deck to report results this week, including Cisco (CSCO - Free Report) , Applied Materials (AMAT - Free Report) , Tapestry (TPR - Free Report) and others. 

The takeaway from the first chart is that analysts were totally in the dark as they set their Q2 EPS and revenue estimates. As we all know, most companies withdrew previously issued guidance given how difficult it was project business trends during the period because of the pandemic.

The chart shows the proportion of the 445 S&P 500 companies that have reported through Friday, August 7th, beating EPS and revenue estimates.













As you can see above, an above average 56.4% of the S&P 500 members are beating both EPS and revenue estimates.

We knew that the pandemic dealt a severe blow to corporate profitability and the results of the 445 S&P 500 companies gives us a good idea of the magnitude of that growth hit. The second chart compares the year-over-year earnings and revenue growth for these 445 index members with what we had seen from the cohort of companies in other recent periods. Please note that when we say ‘earnings’, we mean aggregate net income, not mean or median EPS.














What this chart is showing is that total earnings (or aggregate net income) for the 445 S&P 500 members are down -34.8% on -10.9% lower revenues. To round out this scorecard, 80.2% of these 445 index members have beaten consensus EPS estimates and the corresponding revenue beats percentage is 63.1%, with a blended beats percentage of 56.4%.

The third chart shows how estimates for the current period (2020 Q3) has evolved since the Q2 earnings season got underway.













As you can see above, Q3 earnings for the S&P 500 index are currently expected to decline -23.9% from the same period last year. But the growth picture has been steadily improving since the start of July. We see a similar trend in place for 2020 Q4 and full-year 2020 estimates as well.

This is notable improvement in the overall earnings picture since the start of the pandemic.

The fourth chart below takes a big-picture view of the quarters, showing Q2 earnings and revenue growth in the context of what was actually achieved in the last few quarters and what is expected in the coming periods. Please note that the Q2 earnings and revenue growth figures represent the blended numbers for the quarter, not just the reports that have come out already.













The fifth chart below presents the big-picture view on an annual basis. As you can see below, 2020 earnings and revenues are expected to be down -21.5% and -5%, respectively.













As would be expected, 2020 estimates came down as the pandemic unfolded, with the current -21.5% decline down from +7.9% growth at the start of the year. But as mentioned earlier in the context of 2020 Q3 estimates, the revisions trend lately has been positive, as the chart below shows.












For an in-depth look at the overall earnings picture and expectations for the coming quarters, please check out our weekly Earnings Trends report >>>> Earnings Estimates Are Going Up

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