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The AAPL Effect: Q4 Earnings Growth Without Apple: 0%; With Apple: 2.1%

Yesterday we commented on the outsized macro impact that one company already excerts on the world, when we reported that in the fourth quarter, a whopping 60% of retail sales growth was due to the launch of Apple's iPhone 6 in the fall of 2014, and the surge of Chinese tourists who tok advantage of Hong Kong's lower prices and earlier release. So how about the micro level?

For the answer we present the chart below. Behold: the AAPL effect, which demonstrates that what until AAPL's release was shaping up to be a flat Q4 earnings season for the S&P 500, has since transformed into Q4 EPS growth of 2.1%, and made Apple the largest contributor to earnings growth for the S&P 500 at the company level for the fourth quarter. All this, thanks to just one company!

Factset's take on this dramatic, outsized impact :

During the past week, the blended earnings growth rate for the S&P 500 for Q4 2014 increased to 2.1% today from 0.2% last Friday. The dollar-level earnings for the index rose by $5.0 billion over this period (to $273.8 billion today from $268.8 billion last Friday). What caused the increase in dollar-level earnings for the index this past week?

 

At the sector level, the Information Technology sector witnessed the largest increase in dollar-level earnings of all ten sectors over the past week, as the dollar-level earnings for the sector rose by $3.1 billion over this period.

 

At the company level within the Information Technology sector, Apple was the largest contributor not only to the increase in dollar-level earnings for the Information Technology sector, but also to the increase for the S&P 500 index as a whole. On January 27, Apple reported actual EPS of $3.06 for Q4 2014, which was 17.5% above the mean EPS estimate of $2.60. Due to the magnitude of the surprise and the company’s weight in the index, Apple accounted for just over 2.5 billion (or 51%) of the $5.0 billion increase in earnings for the S&P 500 index over the past week. If Apple had reported actual EPS that matched the mean EPS estimate, the blended earnings growth today would be 1.1% rather than 2.1%.

 

As a result of the upside earning surprise, Apple is now the largest contributor to earnings growth for the S&P 500 at the company level for the fourth quarter. If Apple is excluded, the blended earnings growth rate for the S&P 500 for Q4 2014 would drop to 0.3% from 2.1%.

In light of these facts, one can only hope that Apple's growth, which many sellside analysts have already pegged will result in the first $1 trillion market cap, continues without a hitch in perpetuity, as it now appears that even the slightest deviation from "priced to perfection" growth of just this one company will result in not only an economic recession or worse, but an S&P earnings and market crash too.