USD, Wages The Top Excuses In S&P 500 Earnings Calls

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Third quarter earnings season kicks into high gear this week with big names like Netflix, Intel, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo reporting, among many others. This season is widely expected to be a bumpy ride, so most companies are sure to be making excuses for why they had such a rough third quarter.

Analysts at FactSet say that of the S&P 500 companies that have reported so far, the majority of them have named the strong dollar as one of their biggest problems during the quarter.

Strong U.S. dollar the top earnings excuse

The firm reports that so far only about 5% of S&P 500 companies have released their third quarter earnings reports, with the vast majority expecting to report in the next few weeks. The third quarter brought several hardships for the companies that have reported resulting in several wide misses. Eighteen of the companies that have reported so far cited the strong U.S. dollar as having a major negative impact on their earnings and/ or revenues.

In determining the top factors that have weighed on companies’ earnings reports so far, FactSet analysts searched on conference call transcripts for various terms pertaining to the ongoing factors that have plagued the markets and, in fact, continue to do so. They conducted their search through Oct. 7 to determine the number of companies that have discussed them.

Searching for negative impacts in earnings reports

Next, the firm’s analysts checked to see if the companies said the impact was negative, whether they expressed a negative sentiment with words like “volatility, “headwind,” or “uncertainty,” or whether the companies clearly talked about underperformance relating to the factor, either during the third quarter or in future quarters.

Here are the results of their analysis, and as you can see, the strong dollar was by far the biggest factor weighing on the results of S&P 500 companies during the third quarter.

China, Europe not big factors

FactSet noted that the strong dollar has been a major contributing factor over the last several quarters. The firm also reported that in the earnings call transcripts they reviewed, S&P 500 companies either discussed negative third quarter impacts or negative impacts on both sales and earnings in the future.

Interestingly, only three companies mentioned China, which has been one of the market’s biggest concerns. Apple said recently that so far it has been spared, and several metrics support that the company continued to do well there during the third quarter. Since only three companies mentioned China, it could be that the market overreacted to the macroeconomic environment there, although this week will be very telling in term of just how bad of an impact China has had.

One company (Carnival) even mentioned Europe’s refugee crisis as weighing on its third quarter results. And no we are not kidding here is the quote.

It is interesting to note that only one company has commented on the refugee crisis in Europe to date. “By the time we get to December, maybe those things won’t be the same, but today, with some of the headwinds in Europe, geopolitical, macroeconomic malaise, the intense tension over there around the refugee situation, that has affected all travel, not just cruise, but all travel.” –Carnival Corp. (Sep. 22)

Carnival also blamed China, Europe, and  the strong dollar for poor earnings – making the company the slam dunk winner this quarter.

Graph is courtesy FactSet.

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