Lower Oil and Earnings: A Tough Combo

We are now almost three quarters of the way through the current earnings season and, so far, earnings are down around -1.3 percent from last year according to FactSet.

That’s much better than what markets were expecting at the outset of the quarter, which was -4.6 percent as 73 percent of companies reported results better than analyst estimates.

Results in the energy sector have been especially terrible, falling -57 percent on average from last year due to dramatically lower oil prices during that time. FactSet reports that if earnings were excluded from the results this quarter, the earnings would jump from a contraction of -1.3 percent to a 5.4 percent gain.

The only sector with negative earnings is industrials, which are down -4.6 percent this quarter.

At the other end of the spectrum, healthcare stocks continue to post record profits.  The earnings growth for healthcare stocks this quarter is 14.7 percent.

Healthcare stocks also stand out for their revenue growth of 8.5 percent, which is a bit of an outlier this quarter as overall revenues are down by -3.3 percent.

Again, the decline is largely related to energy companies, whose revenues are down -32.7 percent.  If energy stocks were excluded, revenue for the S&P 500 would jump to 1.8 percent, although other sectors suffered lower revenues, including industrials, materials and utilities.

If revenue declines for the quarter, it would be the first back-to-back downturn for earnings since 2009.

In addition to lower oil prices, the other major themes for the quarter include slower global economic growth and the strong US dollar.