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Earnings Preview

The Q2 earnings season is now effectively behind us, as even Retail sector earnings reports are mostly out now. With results from 480 S&P 500 already out and another 13 index reports reporting results this week, we will have seen Q1 results from 493 index members by the end of this week. Best Buy (BBY - Analyst Report) , Tiffany (TIF - Analyst Report) , Dollar Tree (DLTR - Analyst Report) and Dollar General (DG - Analyst Report) are this week’s notable earnings releases.  

Our overall commentary on the Q2 earning season has been less negative compared to the last few reporting cycles. This reflects an ever-so-modest improvement in the growth picture, both for Q2 as well as the current period. Growth has been in negative territory for a while now, with Q2 as the 5th quarter in a row of earnings declines for the S&P 500 index. The Energy sector has been, and continues to be, a big drag on the overall growth picture. But we can’t blame Energy alone for all the growth challenge; there is simply not much momentum from the other major sectors either.

Estimates for the current period (2016 Q3) have started coming down as well, in-line with the trend that we have become used to seeing over the last few years. Earnings growth for the index is now expected to be in negative territory in Q3 as well, with the last quarter of the year as the only period this year expected to have positive growth. The chart below shows the evolution of 2016 Q3 growth estimates since the start of the period.

As negative as this revisions trend looks, it is nevertheless an improvement over what we have become used to seeing by this stage in other recent reporting cycles. The improved commodity-price backdrop and the reduced dollar drag are some of the more plausible explanations for this development.

Expectations Beyond Q3

The chart below shows current quarterly earnings growth expectations for the index in 2016 Q2 and the following four quarters contrasted with actual declines in the preceding four quarters. As you can see, Q3 is now in negative territory as well, with the last quarter of the year as the only one that is currently expected to be in positive territory.

The Energy sector drag is expected to end in 2016 Q4. We will see if those estimates will hold up as we reach the last quarter of the year. But given what we have seen over the last few quarters, the odds don’t look that favorable.

Retail Sector’s Q2 Results

As of Friday August 19th, we have seen Q2 results from 37 retailers in the S&P 500 index (out of the 44 total) that combined account for 93.6% of the sector’s total market cap in the index. Total earnings for these 37 retails are up +3.9% from the same period last year, on +4.3% higher revenues, with a relatively low 59.5% beating EPS estimates and a very low 43.2% coming ahead of top-line expectations.

The side-by-side charts below compare the growth rates and beat ratios thus far with what we have seen from the same group of 37 retailers in other recent periods.

The growth comparisons (left hand chart) don’t stand out – Q2 earnings growth rate is above the 4-quarter average, but about in-line with 12-quarter average. But the right hand chart, which is tracking the proportion of Retail sector stocks coming out with positive EPS and revenue surprises, shows that Q2 is notably weaker relative to the recent past.

The fact is that the 59.5% EPS beat % for the Retail sector is the second lowest for the entire S&P 500 index, behind only the Construction sector. The revenue beat % of 24% for the sector is the third lowest (Construction is the lowest at 38.5%) of all 16 sectors at this stage.

With respect to the growth picture, which appears to be in-line with the recent past, we have to dig a bit deeper to adjust the sector’s growth picture for Amazon’s (AMZN - Analyst Report) blockbuster Q2 earnings report. This becomes clear by looking at the left hand chart above, with and without the Amazon numbers.

The right-hand chart above, showing the sector’s growth comparison on an ex-Amazon basis, clearly shows that Q2 is tracking way below what we have been seeing from these same retailers in the recent past.

The Q2 Earnings Scorecard (as of August 19th)

We now have Q2 results from 480 S&P 500 members that combined account for 97.3% of the index’s total market capitalization. Total earnings for these 480 companies are down -3.2% from the same period last year on +0.1% higher revenues, with 72.1% beating EPS estimates and 54% coming ahead of top-line expectations.

The table below provides the current scorecard.

The first column of the above table shows what percentage of each sector’s total members have reported results; the second column shows what percentage of that sector’s total market cap has reported results. As you can see, the reporting cycle has ended for five sectors already. The Retail sector is the only one that has exactly half of its results still awaited.

The side-by-side charts below compare the results thus far from the 480 index members with what we have seen from the same group of index members in other recent periods. The left-hand chart compares the earnings and revenue growth rates with historical periods while the right-hand chart is doing the same comparisons for positive EPS and revenue surprises.

Here are the takeaways from these comparison charts:

First, the earnings growth (green bars in the left-side chart above) remains negative, but it is an improvement over what we saw in the preceding quarter and the average growth pace for these 480 index members in the preceding four quarters.

Second, revenue growth (orange bars in the left-side chart) is also negative, but is tracking above what we saw from this group of 480 S&P 500 members in 2016 Q1 and the 4-quarter average.

Third, positive EPS surprises (green bars in the right-side chart) for this group of companies are about in-line with historical periods, suggesting that estimates may not have been that low after all.

Fourth, comparisons for positive revenue surprises are mixed – they are below the preceding quarter and the 12-quarter average, but modestly above the 4-quarter average.

Standout Sectors

Results in the Technology and Medical sectors have been notably better than expected. Autos, Consumer Discretionary, Conglomerates, and Business Services are some of the other sectors whose results came in better than expected. Growth is notably strong in the Construction sector, but the proportion of sector companies beating EPS and revenue estimates is tracking below the index’s level.

For the Technology sector, we now have results from 94.6% of the sector’s total market cap in the index. Total earnings for these Tech companies are flat 0.0% from the same period last year on +3.0% higher revenues, with 83.6% beating EPS estimates and 72.7% beating revenue expectations.

The comparison charts below compare the sector’s results thus far with what these same Tech companies had reported in other recent periods.

This is a better growth performance than we have seen from the same group of Tech companies in the preceding quarter. With respect to positive surprises, they are tracking above historical periods for both earnings and revenue beats, as the comparison charts above show. No doubt market participants are so excited for the results from Facebook (FB - Analyst Report) , Google’s parent Alphabet (GOOGL - Analyst Report) and even Apple (AAPL - Analyst Report) and Microsoft (MSFT - Analyst Report) .

The table below shows the sector’s scorecard at the medium industry level. As you can see, all of the sector’s growth is coming from the Software/Services industry where Alphabet had +44.3% earnings growth on +22.1% higher revenues while Facebook had +158% growth in earnings on 59.2% higher revenues. The weak growth picture for the hardware industry (Computer – office Equipment) is due to Apple and IBM, with Apple’s earnings down -27% on -14.6% lower revenues.

Expectations for the Quarter As a Whole

Looking at Q2 as a whole, combining the actual results from 480 index members with estimates for the still-to-come 20 companies, total S&P 500 earnings are expected to be down -3.1% on -0.4% lower revenues, with growth in negative territory for 6 of the 16 Zacks sectors.

As has been the pattern in other recent periods, the Energy sector remains the biggest drag on the aggregate growth picture, with total earnings for the sector expected to be down -78.9% on -26% lower revenues. Excluding the Energy sector, earnings for the rest of the index would be slightly up 0.4%.

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

While Energy stands out for its very tough comparisons, there is not much positive growth coming from the other major sectors either. The Finance and Technology sectors, the two biggest earnings contributors in the S&P 500 index, are not helping the aggregate growth picture either.

For the Finance sector, total Q2 earnings were down -5.2% on -0.2% lower revenues, which followed the -6.9% decline in the sector’s earnings in the preceding quarter.

The Technology sector, total earnings are expected to be up +0.3% on +2.7% higher revenues, which would follow the sector’s -4.5% earnings decline on +0.4% higher revenues in Q1. The big culprit for the Tech sector’s weak showing this quarter (as well as last one) is Apple (AAPL - Analyst Report) , whose June quarter earnings were down -27% on -14.6% lower revenues from the same period last year. Excluding Apple, the Tech sector’s Q2 earnings would be up +7.1% (Apple alone brings in roughly a fifth of the Tech sector’s total earnings).

Note: Sheraz Mian regularly provides earnings analysis on and appears frequently in the print and electronic media. In addition to this Earnings Preview article, he publishes the Zacks Earnings Trends report every week.

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Here is a list of the 88 companies reporting this week, including 13 S&P 500 members.

Company Ticker Current Qtr Year-Ago Qtr Last EPS Surprise % Report Day Time
PREMIER INC-APINC0.340.232.63%MondayAMC
NORDSON CORPNDSN1.341.1627.96%MondayAMC
ZOES KITCHENZOES0.060.0550.00%MondayAMC
CHINA CORD BLDCO0.030.030.00%MondayAMC
BEST BUYBBY0.420.4925.71%TuesdayBTO
SMUCKER JMSJM1.741.3256.30%TuesdayBTO
TOLL BROTHERSTOL0.630.426.25%TuesdayBTO
TRINA SOLAR LTDTSL0.340.4226.09%TuesdayBTO
AMER WOODMARKAMWD0.940.923.61%TuesdayBTO
REGIS CORP/MNRGS0.010.01-200.00%TuesdayBTO
YINGLI GREEN ENYGE-0.3-5.3161.86%TuesdayBTO
DAKTRONICS INCDAKT0.050.09-187.50%TuesdayBTO
KIRKLANDS INCKIRK-0.21-0.13-40.00%TuesdayBTO
HANWHA Q CELLSHQCL0.48-0.1637.50%TuesdayBTO
INTUIT INCINTU-0.23-0.237.92%TuesdayAMC
LA-Z-BOY INCLZB0.290.278.33%TuesdayAMC
DYCOM INDSDY1.560.9744.00%TuesdayAMC
NIMBLE STORAGENMBL-0.49-0.383.77%TuesdayAMC
LANNETT INCLCI0.60.9117.19%TuesdayAMC
LANTRONIX INCLTRX-0.05-0.0783.33%TuesdayAMC
BANK MONTREALBMO1.381.51.55%TuesdayN/A
EVINE LIVE INCEVLV-0.03-0.0550.00%WednesdayBTO
EXPRESS INCEXPR0.170.25-7.41%WednesdayBTO
GOLDEN OCEAN GPGOGL-0.35-0.95-8.33%WednesdayBTO
EAGLE POINT CRDECC0.620.461.69%WednesdayBTO
KLX INCKLXI0.460.57-28.85%WednesdayBTO
RENESOLA LT-ADRSOL0.03-0.02250.00%WednesdayBTO
ROYAL BANK CDARY1.311.350.83%WednesdayBTO
HP INCHPQ0.450.885.13%WednesdayAMC
PVH CORPPVH1.281.374.90%WednesdayAMC
SOC QUIMICA MINSQM0.260.32-15.38%WednesdayAMC
WORKDAY INC-AWDAY-0.43-0.3315.38%WednesdayAMC
TILLYS INCTLYS-0.030.0214.29%WednesdayAMC
HEICO CORPHEI0.580.515.56%WednesdayAMC
CONCORD MED-ADRCCM0.210.13-191.67%WednesdayAMC
GUESS INCGES0.060.21-21.05%WednesdayAMC
DOLLAR TREE INCDLTR0.730.2511.25%ThursdayBTO
DOLLAR GENERALDG1.090.959.57%ThursdayBTO
TIFFANY & COTIF0.710.86-5.88%ThursdayBTO
PATTERSON COSPDCO0.510.471.32%ThursdayBTO
SIGNET JEWELERSSIG1.481.280.52%ThursdayBTO
BURLINGTON STRSBURL0.290.1918.75%ThursdayBTO
SANDERSON FARMSSAFM2.222.2736.13%ThursdayBTO
NORTH ATL DRILGNADL-0.151.766.94%ThursdayBTO
SOUFUN HLDG-ADRSFUN-0.10.04-242.86%ThursdayBTO
TECH DATA CORPTECD1.441.4310.53%ThursdayBTO
NEURODERM LTDNDRM-0.34-0.3428.57%ThursdayBTO
SEADRILL LTDSDRL0.410.77-31.58%ThursdayBTO
MOVADO GRP INCMOV0.310.518.75%ThursdayBTO
TORONTO DOM BNKTD0.930.983.45%ThursdayBTO
CDN IMPL BKCM1.791.996.47%ThursdayBTO
DESTINATION XLDXLG0-0.01100.00%ThursdayBTO
HOEGH LNG PTNRSHMLP0.350.62-38.30%ThursdayBTO
JINKOSOLAR HLDGJKS1.761.0851.35%ThursdayBTO
EDAP TMS SA-ADREDAP-0.03-0.02300.00%ThursdayBTO
MICHAELS COSMIK0.170.170.00%ThursdayBTO
ULTA SALON COSMULTA1.391.1512.40%ThursdayAMC
SPLUNK INCSPLK-0.59-0.49-16.13%ThursdayAMC
BROCADE COMM SYBRCD0.130.23-5.26%ThursdayAMC
GAMESTOP CORPGME0.270.318.20%ThursdayAMC
ACETO CORPACET0.370.4810.53%ThursdayAMC
BOTTOMLINE TECHEPAY0.090.1511.11%ThursdayAMC
AMER SOFTWARE AAMSWA0.060.09120.00%ThursdayAMC
QAD INC-AQADA-0.10.1-55.56%ThursdayAMC
NET 1 UEPS TECHUEPS0.420.57-2.38%ThursdayAMC
ZAYO GROUP HLDGZAYO0.010.04-500.00%ThursdayAMC
SEADRILL PTNRSSDLP0.620.58-51.52%ThursdayN/A
BIG LOTS INCBIG0.460.415.49%FridayBTO