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Alcoa, FedEx and Nike are part of Zacks Earnings Preview

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – April 05, 2016 – releases the list of companies likely to issue earnings surprises. This week’s list includes Alcoa (AA), FedEx (FDX) and Nike (NKE).

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Previewing to Q1 Earnings Season

The 2016 Q1 earnings season takes center stage with Alcoa’s ( AA) release after the close on Monday. Alcoa isn’t the overall first to report Q1 results, though it is the first S&P 500 member with a fiscal March quarter to come out with results. Companies with fiscal quarters ending in February have been reporting in recent days, with 15 such S&P 500 members having reported results already. All of these results form part of our 2016 Q1 tally.

In fairness to Alcoa, market participants see the aluminum producer’s earnings report as the starting point of each reporting cycle even though the list of early reporters such bellwethers as FedEx (FDX), Nike (NKE) and others have already reported. In total, we will see results from 7 S&P 500 members the rest of this week, with 13 index members on deck to report results next week.

Here are four key points to know about this earnings season.

First , estimates remain low, having fallen sharply over the last three months. Total earnings for the quarter are expected to be down -10.3% on -2% lower revenues and modestly higher margins. Earnings growth is expected to be negative for 11 of the 16 Zacks sectors, including Technology and Finance, the two largest in the index.

Second , the negative earnings growth in Q1 will be the fourth quarter in a row of earnings declines for the S&P 500 index. The headwinds remain unchanged from other recent periods, essentially a combination of Energy sector weakness, the dollar strength and global growth constraints. Please note that Q1 earnings growth would be in the negative even on an ex-Energy basis.

Third , the magnitude of negative revisions that Q1 estimates suffered over the last three months has been the highest of all recent quarters in the comparable periods. Fresh weakness in oil prices at the start of the period was no doubt a big driver of pushing estimates down. But Energy isn’t the only sector that suffered negative revisions. In fact, estimates fell for 15 of the 16 Zacks sectors since the start of the period.

Fourth , the growth challenge isn’t restricted to Q1 or the preceding few quarters; it is actually no better for the current and following quarters either. Total 2016 Q2 earnings are currently expected to be down -5.4% on -2.1% lower revenues, a growth pace that will go down more in the coming days as companies report Q1 results and guide lower for Q2. All of this year’s growth has effectively evaporated, with the modest positive growth for 2016 as a whole entirely a function of current expectations for the last quarter of the year.

The Ever Falling Estimates

Estimates for 2016 Q1 started coming down at an accelerated pace as companies predominantly guided lower on the 2015 Q4 earnings calls, consistent with the trend we have been seeing for more than two years now. Total Q1 earnings for companies in the S&P 500 are currently expected to be down -10.3% from the same period last year, a material decline from the -1.1% decline expected at the start of the quarter.

Estimates for 2016 Q1 have evolved since the quarter got underway. Please note that the magnitude of negative revisions for Q1 is the highest we have seen at comparable periods in other recent quarters, with the Energy sector as the biggest drag.

Current quarterly earnings growth expectations for the index 2016 Q1 and the following four quarters contrasted with actual declines in the preceding two quarters. Growth is expected to be negative in 2016 Q2 and barely in positive territory in the following quarter.

Q1 Earnings Scorecard

As mentioned earlier, we have seen Q1 results from 15 S&P 500 members already (all of these companies have fiscal quarters ending in February). Total earnings for these 15 index are members are down -8.1% from the same period last year on +2.3% higher revenues, with 86.7% beating EPS estimates and 60% beating revenue estimates.

This is too small a sample to draw any firm conclusions from, but these are nevertheless better results than we have seen from this same group of companies in other recent periods.

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