Earnings In Focus

Shawn-00397_cmykby Shawn Narancich, CFAExecutive Vice President of Research

More Than Meets the Eye

While US stocks have remained in a trading range through the first third of earnings season, what lingers beneath the surface belies a market near recent highs. Set against a quiet week on the economic news front and at a time when the Greek melodrama is again fading from the headlines, investors put their full attention into discerning the health of corporate America. As measured by the market capitalization of reporting companies, this past week marked the most significant period of the second quarter earnings season. Though a plurality of those delivering numbers are beating bottom line estimates, revenues are coming in much more mixed given continued headwinds from the stronger dollar and weakening growth in China. Indeed, the Red Giant confirmed the latter earlier today by reporting surprisingly week manufacturing numbers that furthered the sell-off in commodities, rallied the dollar, and boosted bonds.

Not Sleepless in Seattle

In an earnings report that bore some resemblance to Google’s expense-driven earnings beat last week, internet commerce mainstay Amazon.com proved that even it can make money when it stops spending so much. Revenue growth has never been the problem for the folks headquartered in the Emerald City and, on that measure, Amazon continues to excel, reporting accelerating revenue growth that beat estimates.  What was somewhat surprising is that Jeff Bezos’s gang allowed some of the top-line largess to the bottom-line, reporting perhaps the most celebrated $92 million profit ever.  Once again, shorts betting against Amazon got hammered, as the stock surged 10 percent on the news in an otherwise down market. Although a resulting net profit margin of 0.4 percent is certainly not what most companies aspire to, it helped create $22 billion of wealth for Amazon’s shareholders today. For our part, we continue to avoid companies trading for 372x estimated earnings.

Not to be outdone by its Seattle neighbor, consumer darling Starbucks also delivered an upside earnings surprise, reporting that its new mobile ordering initiatives are helping drive traffic and boost same-store sales, which surged 7 percent. On the back of healthy top line growth that translated into a 24 percent earnings gain, Starbucks investors were greeted with further gains in the stock.

An Apple Bitten

In contrast to the wealth created by Seattle-based firms this week, Apple ceded some of its prodigious market value on reduced revenue guidance tied to moderating iPhone sales. While 33 percent quarterly sales growth for a company of Apple’s size is nothing short of extraordinary, when you get to be a company with annual sales approaching $230 billion, it’s only natural for investors to question what a company like this can do for an encore. For our part, we continue to view favorably the prospects of this reasonably valued technology titan.

Our Takeaways from the Week

  • A heavy week of corporate earnings produced mixed results for investors
  • Concerns about a slowing China continue to weigh on commodity prices