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Can Northern Trust (NTRS) Earnings Beat on Higher Fees?

We expect Northern Trust Corporation NTRS to beat earnings expectations when it reports first-quarter 2016 results before the opening bell on Tuesday, Apr 19.

Why a Likely Positive Surprise?

Our proven model shows that Northern Trust has the right combination of two key ingredients to surprise earnings.

Positive Zacks ESP: The">Earnings ESP, which represents the difference between the Most Accurate estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate, stands at +1.06%. This is a major indicator of a likely positive earnings surprise for the company.

Zacks Rank #3 (Hold): Northern Trust carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Note that stocks with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), #2 (Buy) and #3 have a significantly higher chance of posting an earnings beat. Conversely, Sell-rated stocks (#4 and #5) should never be considered going into an earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing a negative estimate revisions momentum.

The combination of Northern Trust’s Zacks Rank #3 and ESP of +1.06% makes us reasonably confident of an earnings beat on Apr 19.  

Factors to Drive Q1 Results

As a player in the custody banking space, Northern Trust derives most of its revenues from non-interest sources of income, particularly trust, investment and other servicing fees, which constituted over 64% of its revenues in fourth-quarter 2015.

These fees are highly dependent upon the market value of clients’ assets under custody, which, in turn, is directly linked to the performance of equity markets. However, U.S. markets have been choppy from the start of the year, and only returned to the positive territory after mid February, as the S&P 500 Index gained 0.8% in the first quarter. However, the index measuring international equity performance – the MSCI EAFE Index – lost 3.7% during the quarter.

As such, overall equity markets did not exhibit a decent performance. However, Northern Trust’s calculation of the corporate custody and investment management fees considers a lag effect, i.e., the computations are based on prior quarter-end valuations. Hence, the company is likely to record higher custody, servicing and management fees due to favorable equity markets in the prior quarter.

In mid December last year, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade. The company should benefit from reduced money market fee waivers in the to-be-reported quarter, in reflection of the full-quarter impact of the rate hike. Also, the company is likely to record growth in net interest income to some extent.

Further, given the strong rises in foreign exchange (“FX”) trading volatility as well as volumes in the first quarter, the company’s revenues should get a lift from higher FX trading revenues.

However, the quarterly results are likely to show higher expenses, reflecting  Northern Trust’s continued investments in new business activity, increases in compensation related expenses due to seasonality, and higher regulatory and compliance costs.

Activities of Northern Trust during the quarter were inadequate to win analysts’ confidence. As a result, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the quarter remained stable at 94 cents per share over the last seven days.

Other Stocks That Warrant a Look

Here are some other stocks worth considering, as according to our model they too have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter.

The Earnings ESP for The Blackstone Group L.P. BX is +21.62% and it carries a Zacks Rank #3. The company is scheduled to release first-quarter results on Apr 21.

PrivateBancorp, Inc. PVTB has an Earnings ESP of +1.75% and a Zacks Rank #3. The company is expected to report first-quarter results on Apr 21.

People's United Financial Inc. PBCT has an Earnings ESP of +4.76% and a Zacks Rank #3. The company is slated to report first-quarter results on Apr 21.

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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
NORTHERN TRUST (NTRS): Free Stock Analysis Report
PRIVATEBANCORP (PVTB): Free Stock Analysis Report
BLACKSTONE GRP (BX): Free Stock Analysis Report
PEOPLES UTD FIN (PBCT): Free Stock Analysis Report
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