Profit estimates for the biggest U.S. companies have fallen by an average of 8 percent for the first three months of this year, the biggest decline in six years. This downward adjustment is enough to prevent any major negative surprises as corporations report first-quarter earnings, according to Barclays Capital.
“The ratio of negative-to-positive earnings pre-announcements is at the highest level in 10 years,” Jonathan Glionna, head of U.S. equity strategy at Barclays, said in an April 14 report
obtained by Newsmax Finance. “This indicates that companies are communicating potential earnings misses, furthering the adjustment process before actual results are reported.”
Earnings forecasts have fallen as the energy industry copes with the crash in oil prices since last summer, while the U.S. dollar’s strength negatively affects profits of companies doing business overseas. Those difficulties are already reflected in earnings estimates, according to Barclays.
“Most, but not all, of the adjustment necessary to reflect the strength of the dollar has occurred,” Glionna said. “The U.S. dollar ended the first quarter up 16% year-on-year, the largest increase since September 1981. We estimate the translation headwind from USD appreciation will reduce revenues by 5 percent.”
Barclays estimated the S&P 500 will end this year at 2,100, little changed from current levels. The bank recommended investors avoid speculating that companies will miss their beaten-down forecasts du ring earnings season.
“In every one of the last 23 quarters, actual results have exceeded expectations,” Glionna said. “EPS estimates are usually too low. Predicting that companies will fail to match earnings expectations has not been a successful strategy, as earnings estimates have been consistently cut too deep.”
In the shorter term, technical analysts are warning of a possible stock-market correction, or a drop of 10 percent from the peak.
Yacine Kanoun, managing director at PivotHunters, said the S&P 500 may fall alongside Germany's blue chip index, the DAX, which has already dipped by 3 or 4 percent since last week, according to CNBC
"Definitely the market is going to correct here," he told CNBC on April 17. "I think the correction has started on the DAX, and the S&P 500 we are probably on the top today."
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