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Return to Earnings Island: MU, KR, DRI

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

As far as our corporate earnings calendars are concerned, this is the week each quarter that stands as an outlier — in between two big earnings season clusters, this is the week that brings alternative fiscal calendars from major companies like Oracle and FedEx, among others. Yesterday after the bell we saw results from growth chip-maker Micron (MU - Free Report) , and ahead of today’s open we also have earnings from Kroger (KR - Free Report) and Darden Restaurants (DRI - Free Report) .

Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy)-based Micron, with a Zacks Style Score of A, topped expectations on both top and bottom lines, with earnings of $3.15 per share beating by a penny and quarterly sales of $7.80 billion, above the $7.75 billion anticipated. These marginal beats may seem unimpressive at first — indeed, shares traded down initially upon the the report’s release after the closing bell yesterday — but keep in mind revenues are up 40% year over year, and gross margins have blossomed to 60.6% from 46.9% a year ago.

Key for the turnaround in sentiment for Micron — the stock is now up 4.5% in Thursday’s pre-market, and an astonishing 43% year-to-date — was in the analysis of the company’s forecast on sales for memory chips, which proved very promising. Concerns about memory chip demand continuing their current robust trajectory had been on the minds of analysts of late. Yesterday’s conference call seems to have put most of them at ease. For more on MU’s earnings, click here.

Supermarket giant The Kroger Company outpaced bottom line estimates by a full ten cents, to 73 cents per share. Revenues of $37.5 billion surpassed the $37.2 billion estimate in the Zacks consensus, and the company upped the lower end of fiscal 2018 earnings guidance. This has helped KR shares boost 10.5% in today’s pre-market, bring the stock effectively back up to the trading plateau the company hasn’t seen since early March. For more on KR’s earnings, click here.

Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse proprietor Darden Restaurants posted fiscal Q4 earnings of $1.39 per share, a beat of four cents, while eking out a beat on the top line as well, to $2.13 billion. Blended comps of its legacy brands amounted to 2.2% growth year over year. Pre-market trading is also very favorable for Darden at this hour — up 13% ahead of the opening bell. For more on DRI’s earnings, click here.

Jobless Claims Continue to Amaze

Keeping within the almost unconscionably good rates on Initial Jobless Claims — within 200K-225K, the lowest we’ve seen since the Rolling Stones were all young men — this morning the headline reached 218K claims, down from the upwardly revised 221K of the previous week. Continuing claims ticked up a bit to 1.723 million (they had dipped below 1.7 million in last week’s initial read), but are still at historically low measures. These results are consistent with a truly amazing U.S. labor market — at or near full employment but without sparking major inflation concerns.

Philly Fed Disappoints

Anything to feed the bears with today? Not really, unless you’d care to continue hand-wringing over a possible global trade war. Otherwise, you’ll need to look toward Philly Fed numbers which, at 19.9, came in far lower than the 28.5 analysts were looking for. Today’s figure is the lowest since November of 2016, but these numbers are often quite volatile, as they track dealings in just one major metropolitan area of the U.S. The highest read we’ve seen thus far in 2018 is February’s 35.3.

Mark Vickery
Senior Editor

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