How to Play the Earnings Collapse
“If you’re a shareowner in Amazon, you may want to take a seat…”
That was the warning from Jeff Bezos when Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) released its earnings report last week. The company, he said, planned to spend all of its $4 billion profit next quarter on pandemic-related expenses.
With demand for its online retail, cloud and streaming services surging due to the crisis, Amazon looked perfectly positioned to turn a profit. But even it is struggling to navigate the challenges posed by the virus.
We’re now just over halfway through earnings season. So what can we learn from the companies that have already reported?
Right now, first-quarter earnings are down about 13% from the same period last year. That’s the worst earnings decline since the financial crisis.
But things will soon get much worse…
Keep in mind, first-quarter earnings numbers include the months of January and February — that’s before the crisis even hit.
But amidst the turmoil, there are a couple of key sectors bucking the trend … and they offer opportunities to make solid gains.
Where to Find Pockets of Resilience
The chart below shows analyst expectations for full-year earnings by sector (red bars), compared to those expectations at the start of the year (blue bars):
Overall, the S&P 500 Index earnings are expected to drop 20% this year, compared to estimates for growth of nearly 10% at the start of the year.
Some sectors are faring much worse. The energy sector was initially expected to have the best earnings growth of any sector. Now earnings are expected to plunge 114% into negative territory!
Meanwhile, other sectors are faring better. It’s no surprise that utility earnings are holding up best.
The technology and health care sectors are projected to be flat … a good showing, considering the fact we’re undoubtedly in recession.
Real estate and consumer staples are seeing earnings projections hold up better as well.
My colleague, Ted Bauman, and I have recently highlighted companies and industries — including industrial automation, online shopping and cloud computing — that stand to benefit during this period of change and uncertainty.
Research Analyst, The Bauman Letter