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Apple, Pfizer and Yum Brands are part of Zacks Earnings Preview

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – July 31, 2017 – releases the list of companies likely to issue earnings surprises. This week’s list includes Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL Free Report), Pfizer (NYSE:PFE Free Report) and Yum Brands (NYSE:YUM Free Report).

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Q2 Earnings Season Past the Halfway Mark

The Q2 earnings season, which has crossed the half-way mark already, reconfirms the positive earnings picture that emerged as a result of the preceding reporting cycle.

The key positive aspects of this earnings season that we have been pointing out all long include broad-based growth, record earnings tally, an abundance of positive surprises and favorable trends on the revisions front. Plenty of reports are still to come – more than 1000 companies are on deck to come out with results this week, including 130 S&P 500 members – but the positive and reassuring view of corporate earnings that we have seen already will likely remain in place.Apple (NASDAQ:AAPLFree Report), Pfizer (NYSE:PFEFree Report) and Yum Brands (NYSE:YUMFree Report) are some of the major reports coming out this week.

Here are the four takeaways from the results that have come out already.

First, the earnings and revenue growth pace is steadily going up relative to pre-season expectations. Total Q2 earnings for the index are currently expected to be up +9.2% from the same period last year on +5.0% higher revenues.

Please note that the +9.2% growth rate is the blended growth rate; it combines the actual growth for the 286 S&P 500 members that have reported with estimates for the still-to-come 214 index members. At the start of the quarter, the expectation was for earnings growth of +7.9%, which came down as the quarter unfolded, reaching as low as +5.6% just ahead of the start of the reporting season.

Since plenty of results are still to come, the actual Q2 earnings growth could very well go above +10%, which will follow the +13.3% earnings growth in the preceding quarter.

The deceleration in Q2 earnings growth notwithstanding, the quarter’s earnings tally is on track to reach a new all-time quarterly record, surpassing the 2016 Q4 level, as you can see in the chart below.

This record isn’t expected to last very long, with each of the coming quarters expected to bring in ever bigger earnings tallies.

Second, an above-average proportion of companies are beating EPS and revenue estimates. We typically don’t give this factor a lot of weight in evaluating or assessing an earnings season since we all know that management teams are experts in managing expectations. Even then, the trend emerging in the Q2 earnings season is noteworthy for two reasons. First, estimates for the quarter had not fallen by as much as had historically been the case. Second, the proportion of positive revenue surprises, a much harder variable to manipulate relative to earnings, is really off the chart.

Third, Q2 growth is broad-based and not dependent on one or two sectors. There is strong growth contribution from the Finance, Technology and Energy sectors in Q2, but we have 12 of the 16 Zacks sectors on track to produce more earnings than the year-earlier period.

Fourth, estimates for the September quarter have started coming down, but the pace and magnitude of negative revisions compares favorably to other comparable periods. Total Q3 earnings are currently expected to be up +4.6% from the same period last year, down from +6.3% at the start of July.

This is a reassuring start on the revisions front, but we will have to see if this trend will remain in place through the rest of this earnings season.

Q2 Earnings Season Scorecard (as of Friday, July 28, 2017)
We now have Q2 results from 286 S&P 500 members that combined account for 68.8% of the index’s total market capitalization. Total earnings for these companies are up +11.3% from the same period last year on +6.1% higher revenues, with 74.5% beating EPS estimates and 69.2% beating revenue estimates.

As pointed out earlier, the proportion of companies beating EPS and revenue estimates is tracking above historical periods (right-hand chart). The earnings and revenue growth pace for these 286 companies is below what we had seen from the same sample of companies in Q1, but an improvement over other recent periods.

Q2 Expectations

Total Q2 earnings are expected to be up +9.2% from the same period last year on +5.0% higher revenues. This would follow +13.3% earnings growth in 2017 Q1 on +7.0% revenues growth, the highest growth pace in all most two years.

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