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Q1 Earnings Season Starts

“Opening Day” for Q1 earnings season throws out the first pitch this afternoon when aluminum giant Alcoa (AA) reports following the closing bell. Estimate revisions have been coming down this quarter for Alcoa, and the consensus is that AA will bring in $0.02 per share. It was twice that 60 days ago.
Alcoa’s story seems typical of what the S&P 500 in general is warily eyeing for Q1 results: Q1 is tracking sub-1 percent right now. Perhaps this is simply a more drastic “under-promising, over-performing” earnings report dance we’ve seen in recent times — and AA has managed to easily outperform expectations over the past 4 quarters — but we are currently setting extremely low bars.
Aside from oil prices and the Chinese economy lagging well behind year-ago projections, the resulting Fed interest rate stall-out (Fed Chair Janet Yellen made her concerns clear in the FOMC notes released last week) and weakness now anticipated for the financial industry are keeping economic biases in this country anchored downward. It’s not clear that big banks like JPMorgan (JPM) and Bank of America (BAC), both which report later this week, can turn these macro-issues around with big earnings beats, so low are our current expectations.
Besides new Q1 earnings data, we also have a meeting today between Yellen and President Obama, in which the two will discuss the current economy, and announcements on those results can be expected. In addition to the myriad market albatrosses, we also see a Japanese Yen spinning up to a 17-month high despite the Bank of Japan’s attempts to tame it.
As Q1 earnings season plays out, however, we should see some relative strength in certain sectors. For comprehensive coverage and astute navigation of another busy earnings season, please read and follow Director of Research Sheraz Mian’s Earnings Trends and Earnings Preview articles.

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