Sep 28, 2020 - Economy

Companies are still holding back earnings guidance

Reproduced from FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals
Reproduced from FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

More companies are releasing earnings guidance for the third quarter and raising expectations, but the number of S&P 500 companies providing guidance remains well below traditional averages.

By the numbers: Just 53 S&P companies issued future guidance in the second quarter, about half of the five-year average (104) and the lowest number since record keeping began in 2006, FactSet's data show.

  • For the third quarter that number is up to 67 so far, or 36% below the average, with 45 companies issuing positive earnings guidance.
  • More than 100 S&P 500 companies have either withdrawn or not provided annual EPS guidance for 2020 or 2021 to date.

What they're saying: "Most of these companies cited uncertainty around the impact of COVID-19 as the reason for not providing annual EPS guidance," John Butters, FactSet's senior earnings analyst, writes in a release.

  • "Thus, it appears this uncertainty is also causing many S&P 500 companies not to provide short-term EPS guidance as well as long-term EPS guidance at this point in time."

Where it stands: Despite the improving picture (on June 30, Q3 earnings were projected to decline by 25.3%), earnings are again expected to be deeply negative in the third quarter, falling by 21.2% for the second worst quarter since Q2 2009.

  • Earnings declined by more than 30% in Q2.
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