We’re in the thick of it now and as we fill out the earnings scorecard, early momentum continues. The chance of breaking numerous quarter financial reporting records is still within the grasp of corporate America. This week 133 companies in the S&P 500, including two components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, step up to the plate.
For me, the story has been top line growth. I’ve always said revenue results are about Main Street, while earnings results are about Wall Street (there are lots of places between the top and bottom line to tweak and manipulate the narrative).
2Q17 financial release S&P 500 highlights:
The pace of revenues’ beat slipped a little last week from the prior week, but not by much. It is still on to beat records - from Factset going back to 3Q08 - of 72% of companies beating the street on the top line.
Earnings also continue to impress, led by technology companies. About 86% of technology companies have beaten Wall Street consensus and according to Fact Set, by a blended average of 12.9%. Financials have also enjoyed a strong earnings season by the blended average beat of 6.7%. The problem for financials is that the street is questionaing the quality of results, seeing lower loan loss provisions as negative.
Beyond that sort of scrutiny, the market has rewarded both ends of the earnings scorecard during the past month. Energy names came into earnings season with very high expectations based on the increase in crude price from a year ago. The blended results for energy are actually -0.5%, lower than consensus, but the sector is up 3.07% in the past month -the best in the S&P.
Crude oil is getting a nudge this morning over reports of impending US sactions against Venezuelan oil sector. The South American country has seen civil strife boil over as the inevitable consequence of its socialist policies. This decision will draw America closer to this pending conflict, where not only does the regime have the military and police on its side, but it has armed civilians as well.
Meanwhile the North Korean threat looms larger and larger. The latest missile launch for the Hermit Kingdom indicates the capability of 6,500 miles, potentially putting American cities such as Seattle, Denver and Los Angeles within range. There are still questions about the range, once tipped with nuclear warheads. The agency that monitors such things has moved up the timetable for Kim Jung Un to have a nuclear warhead to 2018 from 2020.
For now, the market ignores geopolotical risks which is fine, and not as worrisome as ignoring economic risks. The good news is that the US economy is moving in the highs of 2% range, edging higher with limited inflation, which creates the potential for good things to happen such as tax cuts in Washington DC.
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