Half of the S&P 500’s market capitalization has reported its first quarter earnings, and three major themes have emerged, according to Goldman Sachs. Unsurprisingly, earnings from companies in the domestic sector are better than those in the global sector.
Also analysts are rapidly slashing their estimates for this year, and the buyback blackout period ends after this week’s earnings reports.
Earnings slightly positive, revenues disappoint
In a report dated April 24, analyst Amanda Sneider and her team at Goldman Sachs said 47% of the companies that had reported by the end of last week beat earnings estimates by one standard deviation or more. That’s just slightly more than the 10-year historical average, which is 46%.
They add that the S&P 500’s earnings per share is tracking 0.7% higher than the consensus estimate at the beginning of earnings season. It’s at $26.71 per share compared to $26.52 per share earlier. Earnings per share for the index have declined 2% year over year, although excluding the Energy sector, they increased 7% compared to last year. Energy really killed the index as earnings plummeted 65% year over year. All graphs in this report are courtesy Goldman Sachs.
Goldman Sachs team reports that companies found it harder to beat the expectations of analysts for revenue, with only 21% beating by at least one standard deviation. Historically, the percentage was 33%. This isn’t much of a surprise though because companies usually disappoint in revenues when the U.S. dollar is strengthening, as it has been over the last couple of quarters.
They found also that the Consumer Staples and Health Care segments reported strong earnings compared not only to their histories but also to the rest of the S&P 500.
U.S. dollar weighs on some sectors
The analysts pointed out that Information Technology, Materials and Industrials are the three sectors that were the most impacted by the strengthening of the U.S. dollar. The reason for this is because they have a higher percentage of international sales compared to the S&P 500. So far, fewer than a third of IT and Materials companies beat expectations for earnings.
They add that investors should worry less about how the U.S. dollar is impacting each business as a whole rather than the impact from currency translation. The reason is because competition in other countries could seize the pricing opportunity to gain share of their respective markets.
Buyback blackout period ending
This is the last major earnings weak for the first quarter earnings season, as 31% of the equity cap or 165 companies are scheduled to report. Most of the Utilities and Energy market caps and more than a third of the Materials and Health Care sectors are set to report this week.
The Goldman Sachs team said most companies will end the buyback blackout period by May 4. At that point, about 81% of the companies in the S&P 500 will have reported their results. They add that 10% of annual share repurchase spend occurs in May, on average, compared to only 6% in April.
After this week, only 18% of buybacks will remain in the blackout window.