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Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Second-quarter S&P 500 earnings are expected to decline by 43.5%, with revenues falling by 11.5%, according to FactSet, the largest year-over-year drop since Q4 2008 (-69.1%).

By the numbers: Estimated earnings per share for the second quarter have decreased by 36.2% since March 31.

  • That's more than 10 times the five-year average and the largest decrease in a quarter since FactSet began tracking the data in 2002.

The earnings picture is being clouded by a lack of forward guidance.

  • Through Friday, 183 S&P 500 companies had withdrawn or confirmed a previous withdrawal of annual EPS guidance for fiscal year 2020, FactSet senior earnings analyst John Butters said in a note.
  • Only 48 companies have issued guidance for Q2 — with 27 providing negative EPS guidance and 21 issuing positive ones — less than half of the five-year average for a quarter (107).
  • Even with the small sample size, the percentage of companies issuing positive guidance (56%) is well below the five-year average of 69%.

On the other side: As EPS estimates have fallen, price-to-earnings ratios have skyrocketed toward record highs.

  • The 12-month forward P/E ratio for the S&P 500 is 21.2, significantly above the 5-year average (16.8) and 10-year average (15.1) for the index.

Between the lines: The one sector in the S&P 500 that has not seen a significant negative impact to earnings guidance is utilities.

  • Utilities were, by far, the sector with the highest number of companies to confirm previous EPS guidance for 2020 and are projected to have the highest year-over-year earnings growth of all eleven sectors at 2.4%.

Go deeper: U.S. earnings could be world's hardest hit by coronavirus

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Sep 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Wall Street fears stimulus is doomed

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The fight over a new Supreme Court justice will take Washington's partisan bickering to a new level and undermine any chance for needed coronavirus relief measures before November's election, Wall Street analysts say.

What we're hearing: "With the passing of Justice Ginsburg, the level of rhetorical heat has increased, if that seemed even possible," Greg Staples, head of fixed income for the Americas at DWS Group, tells Axios in an email.

Updated Sep 21, 2020 - Politics & Policy

CDC says it mistakenly published guidance about COVID-19 spreading through air

CDC Director Robert Redfield. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Pool/Getty Images

The CDC has removed new guidance that acknowledged airborne transmission of the coronavirus, posting in a note on its website that the guidance was only a draft and had been published in error.

Why it matters: The initial update — which was little noticed until a CNN story was published Sunday — had come months after scientists pushed for the agency to acknowledge the disease was transmissible through the air. The CDC previously said that close person-to-person contact was the bigger concern, and the language has been changed back to erase the warning about airborne transmission.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
35 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Higher education expands its climate push

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New or expanded climate initiatives are popping up at several universities, a sign of the topic's rising prominence and recognition of the threats and opportunities it creates.

Why it matters: Climate and clean energy initiatives at colleges and universities are nothing new, but it shows expanded an campus focus as the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent, and the world is nowhere near the steep emissions cuts that scientists say are needed to hold future warming in check.

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