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Handicapping the Q2 2019 Earnings Season

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We still have a couple of weeks to go before the Q2 earnings season really gets underway, but the reporting cycle has actually gotten underway already. We have a light reporting docket this week because of the July 4th holiday, but results from 20 S&P 500 members are out already.

All of these initial releases from the likes of Nike (NKE - Free Report) , Micron Technology (MU - Free Report) , and others are for these companies’ fiscal quarters ending in May, which we count as part of the June-quarter tally. The fact is that by the time the big banks come around to report June-quarter results on July 16th, we will have seen such Q2 results from almost two dozen S&P 500 members already.

The earnings growth picture is not expected to change much from the flat growth reading in the first quarter. This trend of flat to negative growth is expected to persist through the September quarter, with current consensus estimates looking for positive growth resuming in the last quarter of the year.  But Q4 is still far from away and a lot can happen between now and then.

For Q2, total earnings for the S&P 500 index will decline -2.9% from the same period last year on +4.3% higher revenues, with 9 of the 16 Zacks sectors expected to have negative earnings growth, including the Tech sector.

The overall tone and substance of management guidance during the last earnings season was on the negative side. This reflected a combination of slowing economic growth, particularly beyond the U.S., and rising input expenses. As a result, analysts steadily lowered their estimates for 2019 Q2, as you can see in the chart below.



The chart below shows the earnings and revenue growth picture for the S&P 500 index for Q2, contrasted with what was actually reported in the preceding 4 quarters and what is expected in the following 3 periods.



The table below shows the summary picture for 2019 Q2, contrasted with what was actually achieved in the preceding period.



The Tech Sector Drag

As you can see, growth is expected to be in negative territory for 8 of the 16 Zacks sectors, with Basic Materials, Aerospace, Technology, Conglomerates and Construction sectors expected to experience double-digit declines.

It is the weak Tech growth that is dragging the aggregate Q2 earnings growth rate for the S&P 500 index the most. The Tech sector is the biggest earnings contributor in the S&P 500 index, bringing in 22.6% of the index’s total earnings in forward 4-quarter period. Excluding the Tech sector’s drag, total earnings growth for the remainder of the index would be down only -0.6%. 

Driving the Tech sector’s weak earnings growth expectation for the quarter is Apple (AAPL - Free Report) and the broader semiconductor space. For Apple, June quarter earnings are expected to be down -15.4% on +0.1% higher revenues. The semiconductors industry has been struggling for the last few quarters and this trend is expected to continue in Q2 as well.

The expectation is that the semiconductor industry’s earnings declines bottom in Q2 and start improving from Q3 onwards.

The chart below reflects this expectation, though the fallout of the Huawei issue could be a lot more painful for the space than current estimates suggest, as Applied Materials’ (AVGO - Free Report) guidance showed.



While year-over-year earnings growth for the industry is expected to remain in negative territory over the second half of the year as well, the decline is expected to be progressively smaller, as you can see in the chart above. The expected end of this drag in the first quarter of 2020 is partly responsible for the expected double-digit growth for the sector that quarter, as shown in the chart below.



Finance Earnings Barely Growing

For the Finance sector, the second largest earnings contributor to the S&P 500 index, total Q2 earnings are expected to be up +3.2% on +6.3% higher revenues. This would follow +2.7% earnings growth on +8.2% revenue growth in Q1.

The table below shows the constituent Finance sector industries at the medium level.



The Major Banks industry, the group that includes the big money-center operators like JPMorgan (JPM - Free Report) that kicks off the reporting cycle for the sector on July 16th, is expected to -4.1% lower earnings on +1.8% higher revenues. 



For an in-depth look at the overall earnings picture and expectations for Q2, please check out our weekly Earnings Trends report >>>> Earnings Growth Challenges to Persist

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