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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  • More than 100 S&P 500 companies have either withdrawn or not provided annual EPS guidance for 2020 or 2021 to date.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.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Oct 29, 2020 - Economy & Business

Earnings reports to show if tech can keep growing in a pandemic

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon are all slated to report earnings after the markets close today, and that should give us a much better sense of how the tech industry is faring through the pandemic.

Why it matters: The reports should offer a clue of how sustainable tech's "new normal" is. That's especially important given that experts predict another and stronger wave of coronavirus in the U.S. that could force continued reliance on remote work for office employees.

Oct 29, 2020 - Technology

Alphabet revenue up 14% after second-quarter slump

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Google parent company Alphabet beat Wall Street expectations in the third quarter of 2020, announcing total revenues of $46.2 billion with its shares rising more than 9% in after-hours trading.

Why it matters: The company rebounded with its revenue up 14% after a tough second quarter, when its saw its first-ever revenue decline attributable to a lowered advertising growth rate amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 29, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Shell posts profit and boosts dividend

Royal Dutch Shell PLC sign. Photo: Aleksander Kalka/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Royal Dutch Shell reported a nearly $1 billion third-quarter profit Thursday, beating analysts' forecasts, and announced a slight increase in dividends.

Driving the news: Its stock is up 3% in premarket trading this morning but remains at roughly 25-year lows as the sector faces headwinds from COVID-19's effect on prices and demand.