Investors’ focus this week will be on earnings results, with some of the most heavily weighted companies in the S&P 500 poised to deliver their quarterly reports.
Over the past couple of weeks, most of the companies that posted earnings results topped Wall Street’s estimates, despite widespread concerns over the impact of supply chain challenges to corporate profits. These better-than-feared results helped power both the S&P 500 and Dow to fresh record highs in the past week.
As of Friday, about 23% of S&P 500 companies had reported actual results for the third quarter. Of these, 84% topped Wall Street’s expectations for earnings per share (EPS), according to data from FactSet. And the estimated earnings growth rate for the S&P 500 stood at 32.7%, based on actual results and expectations for companies still yet to report. If maintained through the end of third-quarter earnings season, that would mark the third-highest earnings growth rate posted for the index since 2010.
Given the string of stronger-than-expected results posted so far, this week’s docket of reports has a heightened bar to clear.
And that’s especially set to be the case for the Big Tech companies, including Facebook (FB), Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN) and Alphabet (GOOGL). Most of these far outperformed the market last year, but have seen their stock gains cool so far in 2021 amid concerns over rising interest rates, chip shortages, and slowing growth after a surge in online media usage and demand for software during the height of the pandemic.
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Despite the near-term challenges, however, some strategists have struck an upbeat tone on the technology sector as a whole.
“While the chip shortage will be a major conversation piece for tech investors during tech earnings season and clearly be an overhang, we believe the Street will instead look through any near-term disruption and focus on the underlying healthy demand drivers into 2022 which look robust,” said Wedbush analyst Dan Ives in a note last week.
A number of the closely watched technology companies that reported last week posted results that disappointed investors or highlighted the lingering impact of these myriad concerns. Snap (SNAP), the parent company of the disappearing photo-sharing platform app Snapchat, offered a current-quarter forecast that fell short of expectations, with supply chain challenges for its advertiser customer base and privacy-related changes to Apple’s iOS operating system weighing on sales and profits.
The weak guidance sent Snap’s stock down by 27% on Friday for its biggest single-day drop on record, and dragged down shares of other ad-driven companies including Facebook, Pinterest (PINS), Twitter (TWTR) and Alphabet.
In July, Facebook had already flagged an early impact from Apple’s iOS privacy update, which allows users to better control how apps track them. Facebook Chief Financial Officer Dave Wehner said during the company’s second-quarter earnings call that the company expected “increased ad targeting headwinds in 2021 from regulatory and platform changes, notably the recent iOS updates” and expected these “to have a more significant impact in the third quarter compared to the second.”
Still, the social media juggernaut’s top-line growth is expected to climb by another 37% in the third quarter of last year to reach a fresh quarterly record of $29.45 billion. Still, this pace of growth would mark a step down from the second quarter’s 56% year-on-year growth rate.
An illustration picture taken in London on December 18, 2020 shows the logos of Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft displayed on a mobile phone and a laptop screen. – (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
For peer ad-driven company Alphabet, a pickup in travel among consumers may help fuel the company’s core Google Search business even in the face of other ad-industry headwinds. Both Snap and American Express (AXP) last week highlighted a pickup they were witnessing in consumer travel behavior and out-of-the-home spending in their third-quarter earnings releases and calls.
“Lost in the noise, SNAP also highlighted opportunity driven by travel budgets returning, which is a positive read through to GOOGL’s general search business,” Daniel Salmon, BMO Capital Markets internet and media analyst, wrote in a note on Friday.
Ongoing semiconductor shortages and supply-related issues also dealt a blow to other tech companies. Tesla (TSLA) said in its earnings report last week that, “A variety of challenges, including semiconductor shortages, congestion at ports and rolling blackouts, have been impacting our ability to keep factories running at full speed.”
And reports earlier this month from Bloomberg suggested Apple was likely to cut its iPhone 13 production targets by as many as 10 million units amid chip shortages. The company, however, is still expected to post still-solid revenue growth of 21%, bringing sales to $84.67 billion as consumer demand for the latest smartphones remained resilient, especially in the U.S. and China.
Rounding out this tech-heavy earnings week will be Amazon (AMZN), which posts quarterly results alongside Apple on Thursday after market close. The company has lagged the market since last reporting earnings in late July, falling 7.3% since July 29 versus a 2.9% gain in the S&P 500.
Investors have been especially cautious on Amazon given widespread supply chain constraints, rising labor costs and fears that e-commerce sales and Amazon Web Services growth could slow after a pandemic-induced surge. Amazon shares had climbed by 76% in 2020, and the stock was the second-best FAANG performer after Apple that year.
“Concerns across top line, bottom line, and broader macro have collectively driven cautious sentiment into year-end,” wrote JPMorgan analyst Doug Anmuth in a note last Thursday. “However, we believe there is still significant secular shift toward e-commerce ahead and Amazon has a very strong track record around investing into future growth opportunities.”
“Macro issues related to supply chain, port congestion, and inventory are well-documented and have intensified into the holiday season, driving concerns that delays could impact timing of AMZN receiving 1P/3P [first-party and third-party seller] inventory and certain items could remain out-of-stock,” he added. “Overall, we believe AMZN embedded some degree of disruption into the 3Q guide and we believe AMZN scaled inventory in anticipation of greater 2H demand.”
In late July, Amazon said it expected third-quarter net sales to total $106 billion to $112 billion, missing consensus expectations at the time. Wall Street analysts now expected to see Amazon post third-quarter sales of $111.8 billion, representing year-over-year growth of 16%, or its slowest since early 2015.
Monday: Chicago Fed National Activity Index, September (0.2 expected, 0.29 in August); Dallas Fed Manufacturing Activity Index, October (6.2 expected, 4.6 in September)
Tuesday: FHFA House Price Index, month-over-month, August (1.5% expected, 1.4% in July); S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-City Composite, month-over-month, August (1.44% expected, 1.55% in July); S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-City Composite, year-over-year, August (20.00% expected, 19.95% in July); New Home Sales, month-over-month, September (756,000 expected, 740,000 in August); Conference Board Consumer Confidence, October (108.5 expected, 109.2 in September)
Wednesday: MBA Mortgage Applications, week ended Oct. 22 (-6.3% during prior week); Advance Goods Trade Balance, September (-$88.3 billion expected, -$87.6 billion in August); Wholesale Inventories, month-over-month, September preliminary (1.0% expected, 1.2% in August); Durable Goods Orders, September preliminary (-1.0% expected, 1.8% in August); Durable Goods Orders, excluding transportation, September preliminary (0.4% expected, 0.3% in August); Non-defense Capital Goods Orders, excluding aircraft, September preliminary (0.4% expected, 0.6% in August); Non-defense Capital Goods Orders, excluding aircraft, September preliminary (0.4% expected, 0.8% in August)
Thursday: Initial jobless claims, week ended Oct. 23 (292,000 expected, 290,000 during prior week); Continuing claims, week ended Oct. 16 (2.420 million expected, 2.481 million during prior week); GDP annualized, quarter-over-quarter, Q3 first estimate annualized (2.7% expected, 6.7% in Q2); Personal consumption, Q3 first estimate (0.7% expected, 12.0% in Q2); Core personal consumption expenditures, quarter-over-quarter, Q3 first estimate (4.4% expected, 6.1% in Q2); Pending home sales, September (0.6% expected, 8.1% in August); Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Activity Index, October (19 expected, 22 in September)
Friday: Personal income, September (-0.2% expected, 0.2% in August); Personal spending, September (0.6% expected, 0.8% in August); Personal Consumption Expenditures Core Deflator, month-over-moth, September (0.2% expected, 0.3% in August); Personal Consumption Expenditures, Core Deflator, year-over-year, September (3.7% expected, 3.6% in August): MNI Chicago PMI, October (64.0 expected, 64.7 in September); University of Michigan Sentiment, October final (71.4 expected, 71.4 in September)
Tuesday: Centene (CNC), UPS (UPS), 3M (MMM), General Electric (GE), Waste Management (WM), Eli Lilly (LLY), Hasbro (HAS), Raytheon Technologies (RTX), Invesco (IVZ), The Sherwin-Williams Co. (SHW), Lockheed Martin (LMT), S&P Global (SPGI) before market open; Capital One Financial Corp. (COF), Twitter (TWTR), Juniper Networks (JNPR), Visa (V), Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Microsoft (MSFT), Texas Instruments (TXN), Alphabet (GOOGL) after market close
Wednesday: CME Group (CME), McDonald’s (MCD), Hilton Worldwide Holdings (HLT), Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY), Boeing (BA), The Coca-Cola Company (KO), Kraft Heinz (KHC), General Motors (GM) before market open; Ford (F), Xilinx (XLNX), O’Reilly Automotive (ORLY), United Rentals (URI), Align Technology (ALGN), eBay (EBAY), ServiceNow (NOW) after market close
Thursday: Merck (MRK), Caterpillar (CAT), Yum! Brands (YUM), Comcast (CMCSA), Moody’s Corp. (MCO), Nielsen Holdings (NLSN), Stanley Black & Decker (SWK), The Hershey Co. (HSY), Molson Coors Beverage Co. (TAP), Mastercard (MA), Altria Group (MO) before market open; Apple (AAPL), Western Digital Corp. (WDC), Starbucks (SBUX), Gilead Sciences (GILD), Amazon (AMZN) after market close
Friday: Royal Caribbean (RCL), T Rowe Price Group (TROW), Charter Communications (CHTR), Chevron (CVX), AbbVie (ABBV), Exxon Mobil (XOM), Colgate-Palmolive (CL), Newell Brands (NWL) before market open
Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck