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Solid Housing Starts Join Q2 Earnings Data

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

As we mull earnings reports from IBM IBM and United Continental UAL from Tuesday afternoon and more Wall Street investment firms this morning, we also see fresh data on June Housing Starts and Permits. Both headline numbers came in hotter than expected: 1.215 million on June starts (up 8.3%) and 1.254 million in permits (up 7.4%). (These results are seasonally adjusted and annualized.)

Housing Starts in May also saw a positive revision from 1.09 million units to 1.12 million. Analysts had only expected a 5.5% increase in starts and just 1.7% in permits. Starts were bolstered by a strong 849K in single-family housing. All this said, we are still well off the multi-year highs of roughly 2 million annualized housing starts per month.

Zacks Rank #4 (Sell)-rated Morgan Stanley MS topped estimates on both top and bottom lines ahead of the bell this morning: 87 cents per share beat the 76 cents expected, and the $9.5 billion in revenues easily surpassed the $8.9 billion in the Zacks consensus estimate. These results beat fairly low bars for Morgan in the quarter, however: our consensus earnings estimate for Q2 had tumbled more than 10% in the past month.

U.S. Bancorp USB also beat expectations for its Q2 earnings and revenues, albeit more slightly: 85 cents per share beat by a penny, and revenues of $5.49 billion outperformed the $5.46 billion in the Zacks consensus. This is a very typical quarterly performance for the Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock: the trailing 4-quarter average earnings beat — in which the bank topped expectations each time — was 1.55%.

Wednesday after the bell will give us a breather of sorts, with American Express AXP and T-Mobile U.S. TMUS reporting after the bell, but the real marquee names of earnings season begin after the bell with Microsoft MSFT Thursday afternoon, and then the dam really breaks open next week.

Mark Vickery
Senior Editor

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