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Microsoft, Alphabet and Apple are part of Zacks Earnings Preview

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – April 25, 2016 – releases the list of companies likely to issue earnings surprises. This week’s list includes Microsoft (MSFT), Alphabet ( GOOGL) and Apple (AAPL).

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Making Sense of Q1 Earnings Season

The Q1 reporting cycle really heats up this week, with more than 900 companies reporting results, including 183 S&P 500 members. By the end of this week, we will have seen results from more than 60% of the index’s total membership. But with a representative-enough sample of earnings reports already out, we have a good sense of how this reporting cycle has unfolded.

The trend thus far from the 132 S&P 500 members that have reported Q1 results is of more numerous positive earnings and revenue surprises and fewer negative revisions to current-quarter estimates. This seemingly favorable development notwithstanding, the growth challenge remains, with Q1 earnings on track to be below the year-earlier period, the 4th quarter in a row of earnings declines.

It is perhaps not surprising to see a bigger proportion of companies beat estimates given how low estimates had fallen ahead of the start of this reporting cycle. But the deceleration in negative estimate revisions could be a positive development on the earnings front, provided it continues through the coming days. Please note that estimates for the current period (2016 Q2) are still coming down and the trend will likely accelerate in the coming days as more companies report Q1 results and provide guidance about Q2. But the pace and magnitude of negative revisions at this stage is tracking below what we had seen in the comparable period in the preceding earnings cycle. A continuation of this decelerating negative revisions trend through the coming days will represent a notable improvement in the overall corporate earnings picture, which has largely been negative for some time.

More on the aggregate earnings picture emerging from the already-released Q1 results a little later, but let’s briefly touch on the Tech sector’s results following the recent weaker than expected reports from Microsoft (MSFT) and Google’s parent Alphabet ( GOOGL). Both of these companies didn’t rise to the expectations that had built up following their blowout results in the preceding earnings season. In other words, the Microsoft and Google disappointments are the inverse of what is happening this earnings season as a whole, with low expectations providing an easy-to-beat hurdle rate for most companies.

Including these Tech sector reports, we have Q1 results from 49.6% of the sector’s total market capitalization in the S&P 500 index. Total earnings for these Tech companies are down -6% on -1% lower revenues, with 72.2% beating EPS estimates and 50% beating revenue estimates. This is weak performance from these Tech companies relative to what we have seen from the same group of companies in other recent periods.

For the Tech sector as a whole, total Q1 earnings are expected to down -5.8% on +2.3% higher revenues. Apple ( AAPL), which reports Q1 results this week, is a drag on the sector’s growth picture, with total earnings for the iPhone maker expected to be down -19.7% from the same period last year on -9.9% lower revenues. Excluding Apple, total Tech sector earnings for the quarter would be down -1.3%.

Q1 Earnings Scorecard

As of Friday, April 22nd, we have Q1 results from 132 S&P 500 members that combined account for 37.3% of the index’s total market capitalization. Total earnings for these index members are down -7.9% from the same period last year on -1.1% lower revenues, with 77.3% beating EPS estimates and 56.1% beating revenue estimates. The percentage of companies that are able to beat both EPS and revenue estimates is tracking 48.5% at this stage.

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