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Conglomerate Stocks to Watch for in Q1 Earnings: MMM, UTX

The Q1 earnings season has gathered momentum with over 180 companies on the S&P 500 index reporting this week. Taking into consideration the 132 companies that have reported results so far, the earnings trend has more or less confirmed the grim projections for the quarter. Based on current results, Q1 is widely expected to be the fourth consecutive quarter to report an earnings decline for the benchmark index.

Plagued by a plethora of macroeconomic issues and continued volatility in the equity market, Q1 earnings estimates for the S&P 500 index have gone downhill over the last three months, albeit improving slightly in the last few days. Per the latest Earnings Trend Report, overall Q1 earnings for the S&P 500 companies are expected to be down 9.4% on a 0.8% decline in revenues. Guidance for most companies that have reported so far has already been lowered to easy-to-beat levels, resulting in better-than-expected positive earnings and revenue surprises.

However, the overall Q1 earnings scenario still remains clouded with uncertainty. What is more alarming is that the likely dismal earnings performance is not attributable to the inherent weakness of the Energy sector alone. Rather, downward estimate revisions are expected in almost all the sectors, barring a few. About 9 of the 16 sectors are expected to witness an earnings decline in the quarter under review, with Oil/Energy, Basic Materials, Industrial Products, Aerospace, and Conglomerates being the most notable.

Among the conglomerates slated to report this week, let’s have a sneak peek at two major industrial goods stocks to see how things are shaping up for the upcoming first-quarter results.

3M Company MMM is scheduled to report first-quarter 2016 results before the opening bell on Apr 26. During the quarter, 3M completed the divestiture of the Pressurized Polyurethane Foam Adhesives assets to Innovative Chemical Products Group, a leading specialty chemical firm engaged in the formulation, manufacturing, and marketing of coatings and adhesives. The divestiture would enable 3M to focus on its core business, which includes adhesives, tapes and sealants. The company remains focused on optimizing its portfolio by selectively divesting its businesses and gradually shifting focus to high-growth markets. For the impending quarter, 3M has an Earnings ESP of +2.08% with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), which makes us confident of an earnings beat (read more: Will 3M Beat Q1 Earnings on Healthy Organic Growth?).

United Technologies Corporation UTX will report first-quarter 2016 results before the opening bell on Apr 27. During the quarter, United Technologies thwarted an acquisition bid by Honeywell International Inc. HON, citing regulatory hurdles and monopolistic market. The news created market speculation about the possible merger of two blue-chip stocks into an industry behemoth and raised concerns about achievable synergies, management roles and cultural fit. Although United Technologies dispelled the rumors with a clear-cut stance, uncertainty regarding another possible buyout in the future could affect revenues and earnings to some extent. For the first quarter of 2016, this Zacks Rank #4 (Sell) stock has an Earnings ESP of 0.00% (read more: Can United Technologies Beat Earnings Yet Again?).

Stay tuned! Check later on our full write-up on earnings releases of these stocks.

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Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
3M CO (MMM): Free Stock Analysis Report
HONEYWELL INTL (HON): Free Stock Analysis Report
UTD TECHS CORP (UTX): Free Stock Analysis Report
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