Oct 27, 2020 - Economy

Strategists warn stocks may have gotten ahead of themselves

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

The behavior of U.S. stocks so far this earnings season has been unusual for both companies that beat expectations and those that missed, top equities strategists say.

What's happening: Analysts at Deutsche Bank note that "the S&P 500 is seeing a rare earnings season decline so far of (-4.2%)," compared to an average gain of 2.9% and in especially sharp contrast to the record rally of 11% in Q2.

  • And companies are seeing little stock bounce from beating their earnings estimates, "mostly flat relative to the market, instead of typical outperformance (+0.5pp historically)."

On the other hand: Companies that miss earnings expectations are being punished more severely than usual — twice as much, according to calculations from Wells Fargo, which found companies that missed consensus earnings estimates saw an average one-day decline of 4.4%.

  • That's on pace to be “the harshest quarterly punishing for missing consensus we have ever seen,” per Wells analysts, citing data that goes back to the first quarter of 2015.
  • “We suspect these post-earnings beat-downs largely are a result of equities getting ahead of themselves in prior weeks.”

The big picture: So far, a record 87% of reported companies have beaten EPS estimates, well above the historical average of 73% and prior record 84% in Q2.

  • The companies that have reported have beaten estimates by 16.3% in aggregate, just below the record 20.3% in Q2, per DB.

Yes, but: The S&P is on pace for an earnings decline of 14.6% year over year, after a 33% decline in Q2.

  • The S&P 500 is 12.5% above where it was at this point in 2019.
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