The Business Services sector was on a strong footing, driven by economic strength and stability that kept service activities in good shape in the fourth quarter. It was buoyed by a strong labor market, solid job growth and lower unemployment.
Notably, U.S. GDP grew at an annualized rate of 2.1% in fourth-quarter 2019, in line with the growth in the third quarter, per estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Further, December was the 119th month of consecutive growth in non-manufacturing activities, with the ISM-measured Non-Manufacturing Index touching 55%. Notably, a reading above 50 indicates growth.
Since business services firms have lower foreign exposure compared with goods companies and incur less foreign input costs, the industry was less affected by the trade war in the fourth quarter.
The Zacks Business Services sector currently carries a Zacks Sector Rank in the top 32% (5 out of 16 sectors). Additionally, we observe that the sector has performed well over the past year compared with the benchmark. It has gained 22.4%, outperforming the 17.7% rise of the Zacks S&P 500 composite.
SPGI, FLT, G and MMS in Spotlight
Given this encouraging backdrop, let’s delve deeper and analyze the factors that have likely influenced the performance of these four business services companies, scheduled to report their respective quarterly numbers on Feb 6.
Per our proprietary model, the combination of a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), 2 (Buy) or 3 (Hold) increases the odds of an earnings beat. You can uncover the best stocks to buy or sell before they’re reported with our Earnings ESP Filter.
S&P Global Inc. (SPGI - Free Report) : This New York-based provider of ratings, benchmarks, analytics, and data to the capital and commodity markets is scheduled to report fourth-quarter 2019 results, before market open.
The Zacks Consensus Estimate for revenues stands at $1.70 billion, indicating growth of 10.7% from the year-ago period’s reported figure. Strength across all segments — S&P Global Ratings (“Ratings”), S&P Global Market Intelligence ("Market Intelligence"), S&P Global Platts ("Platts") and S&P Dow Jones Indices ("Indices") — is likely to have driven the company’s revenues in the fourth quarter.
The consensus mark for earnings is pegged at $2.41 per share, indicating growth of 8.6% from the year-ago period’s reported figure. Revenue growth and benefits of productivity initiatives are likely to have boosted S&P Global’s earnings.
The company has an attractive earnings surprise history, having surpassed estimates in three of the trailing four quarters, with average beat of 3.6%.
However, S&P Global has an Earnings ESP of -0.17% and a Zacks Rank #2. (Read more: What's in the Cards for S&P Global's Q4 Earnings?)
FLEETCOR Technologies, Inc. (FLT - Free Report) : This Georgia-based provider of commercial payment solutions in North America, Latin America, Europe, and Australasia is set to release fourth-quarter 2019 results after market close.
The Zacks Consensus Estimate for revenues stands at $703.91 million, indicating growth of 9.4% from the year-ago period’s reported figure. The top line is likely to have benefited from strength across four product categories — fuel, corporate payments, lodging and tolls.
The consensus mark for earnings per share is pegged at $3.13, suggesting growth of 12.6% from the year-ago quarter’s reported figure. Operational performance is likely to have aided the bottom line.
FLEETCOR has an impressive earnings surprise history, having surpassed estimates in the trailing four quarters, with average positive surprise of 2.1%.
Encouragingly, our model predicts an earnings beat for FLEETCOR in the to-be-reported quarter, as it has the favorable combination of an Earnings ESP of +0.29% and a Zacks Rank #3. (Read more: FLEETCOR to Post Q4 Earnings: What's in the Offing?)
Genpact Limited (G - Free Report) : This Bermuda-based provider of business process outsourcing and information technology (IT) services in North and Latin America, India, rest of Asia, and Europe is scheduled to report fourth-quarter 2019 results after market close.
The Zacks Consensus Estimate for revenues is pegged at $911.28 million, indicating growth of 9.1% from the year-ago quarter’s reported figure. The top line is likely to have been driven by large deals and growth in transformation services.
The consensus mark for earnings per share stands at 56 cents, indicating growth of 7.7% year over year. Benefits from higher operating profit and lower effective tax rate are likely to have partially offset the headwinds arising from lower foreign exchange balance sheet remeasurement gains and higher net interest expenses.
Genpact has an impressive earnings surprise history, having surpassed estimates in the trailing four quarters, with average positive surprise of 6.3%.
However, our model does not conclusively predict an earnings beat for Genpact this time around as it has an Earnings ESP of 0.00% and a Zacks Rank #3. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
MAXIMUS, Inc. (MMS - Free Report) : This Virginia-based provider of business process services (BPS) to government, health and human services programs worldwide is set to release first-quarter fiscal 2020 results before the opening bell.
The Zacks Consensus Estimate for revenues is pegged at $804.28 million, indicating a 21% increase from the year-ago quarter’s reported figure. The top line is expected to have benefited from the buyout of citizen engagement centers.
The consensus mark for earnings per share stands at 91 cents, indicating an increase of 5.8% from the prior-year quarter’s reported number.
MAXIMUS has an impressive earnings surprise history, having surpassed estimates in three of the trailing four quarters, with average positive surprise of 6.8%.
However, our model does not conclusively predict an earnings beat for MAXIMUS in the quarter to be reported, as it has an unfavorable combination of an Earnings ESP of 0.00% and Zacks Rank #3.
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