The Q3 earnings season is drawing to a close and we now have a much clearer picture with results from 445 S&P 500 companies (91% of the index’s total membership) on board.
Approximately 72.7% posted positive earnings surprises, while 55.4% surpassed top-line expectations. According to the latest Earnings Preview, earnings of these companies are up 3.9% from the same period last year, while revenues have increased 2.7%.
The trend this reporting cycle indicates that we may finally see a positive earnings picture after five straight quarters of decline. The report projects that earnings for the total S&P 500 companies will improve 3.4% from the year-ago period, while total revenue will grow 1.5%.
Technology Sector in Focus
Talking about the technology sector, 88.8% of the sector’s total market capitalization in the S&P 500 index has already reported. Total earnings of these tech companies are up 6.1% from the same period last year on 3.4% higher revenues, with 84% beating earnings estimates and 76% surpassing revenue expectations.
Apple Inc.’s (AAPL - Free Report) dismal results proved to be a drag on the overall performance of the sector. The company’s Q3 earnings were down 19% from the same period last year on 9% lower revenues.
Let’s see what’s in store for two technology stocks, which are expected to release quarterly numbers on Nov 17.
Technology leader and one of the largest suppliers of fabrication equipment, Applied Materials, Inc. (AMAT - Free Report) is unlikely to beat fourth-quarter fiscal 2016 earnings estimates as it has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) and an Earnings ESP of 0.00%. You can uncover the best stocks to buy or sell before they’re reported with our Earnings ESP Filter.
As per our proven model, a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), 2 (Buy) or 3 to beat estimates. Conversely, we caution against stocks with a Zacks Rank #4 or 5 (Strong Sell) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions.
However, we note that Applied Materials has a solid product line and management has stepped up investments to prepare for the ongoing transition to larger wafer sizes and smaller process nodes. The ramp up in FinFET, 3D NAND and new display technology will likely be the catalysts.
Notably, Applied Materials’ results compared favorably with the Zacks Consensus Estimate in the last four quarters, with an average beat of 5.05%. Last quarter, the company posted a 6.38% positive surprise.
Similarly, we don’t expect Keysight Technologies (KEYS - Free Report) to post an earnings beat for fourth-quarter fiscal 2016 on Nov 17 as it has an Earnings ESP of 0.00% and a Zacks Rank #3. This is an applied technology company that provides electronic measurement solutions to the communications and electronics industries. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Keysight Technologies’ results compared favorably with the Zacks Consensus Estimate in the last four quarters, with the average positive earnings surprise being14.49%.
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