UBS and BofA weigh in on S&P 500 earnings so far

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UBS and BofA weigh in on S&P 500 earnings so far
Credit: © Reuters.

Analysts at Bank of America Securities and UBS have released notes providing their view of S&P 500 earnings so far, with guidance and margins highlighted as strong points.

72 S&P 500 companies (21% of index earnings) have reported so far.

BofA said in its note on Monday that demand has been weak, but margins are strong. There is a 6% earnings per share (EPS) beat and a 1% sales beat.

The proportion of sales beats is weaker than the historical average (59%), "suggesting a continued sluggish demand backdrop," said BofA. "1Q consensus EPS is down 2% (flat ex-BMY acquisition costs). Our 1-mo. guidance ratio is tracking at 0.7x, the highest level since October 2023, but weaker than the average April ratio (1.1x)."

The bank adds that earnings indicate continued strength in services and weakness in goods. They note that META (NASDAQ: META ), GOOGL, and MSFT are among the biggest companies reporting this week, and that the artificial intelligence (AI) contribution will be the key focus. However, they also believe the AI capex outlook will be equally as important. Magnificent seven earnings are expected to slow to +39% year-on-year (YoY) this quarter.

Analysts at UBS noted the positive earnings but also the mixed reactions.

"We don't think these reactions are a reflection of the results themselves," said the bank. "Instead, the market environment going into this earnings season was more challenging than usual."

UBS's initial expectations for 7% to 9% profit growth still appear achievable. However, the bank cautions that its estimate does not account for a non-cash charge from Bristol-Myers Squibb, impacting the growth rate by a few percentage points.

"Nearly 60% of companies are beating sales estimates and 75% are beating earnings estimates," according to UBS which released its note on Friday. "In aggregate, earnings are beating by roughly 9%, better than our expectations for a beat rate of 4-6%. Guidance has also been encouraging. The second-quarter earnings per share estimate (EPS) for the companies that have reported is holding up better than normal."

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