- Amazon, Nike, and Shake Shack are just a few US companies that have this quarter warned that growth is slowing.
- Nike said in its third-quarter earnings report out Thursday that while its profits were robust its North American sales growth slowed.
- A handful of notable US companies have warned of a slowdown as economic growth cools around the world.
Since the start of the year, some of the most visible companies in the US have warned growth is cooling in one segment or another of their businesses – at a time when global economic growth is under a microscope.
Apple set the stage back in January with a revenue warning. Then weeks later, the industrial giant Caterpillar said its outlook for this year assumed “modest” sales growth. Amazon offered weak sales guidance in February, and FedEx said this week that its sales and profits came up short due to macroeconomic weakness.
Of course, each corporation carries its own unique story, structure, and outlook. And each sector comes with its own idiosyncratic challenges. But even as stocks have staged an impressive rebound this year, investors and analysts alike can’t help but take notice of earnings growth slowing down.
“This year is starting on a sour note for earnings, yet stock prices have rebounded nicely so far,” said Ed Yardeni, the president of Yardeni Research, in a note to clients this week.
“While the Q4-2018 growth rate was still in the double digits, the typical upward earnings hook was anemic. Furthermore, corporate managements’ guidance about the 2019 outlook during their latest conference calls was generally cautious.”
Indeed, investment strategists say it’s hard to ignore lowered earnings estimates.
Last year, earnings grew 27.5% year-over-year in the third-quarter and 14.2% year-over-year in the fourth-quarter, according to data compiled by Refinitiv. The first-quarter’s earnings growth rate is slightly negative, at -1.5%, and second-quarter expectations call for growth of just 1.1%.
“Investors might be pleased with the market’s recent performance, but it’s unlikely they find the underlying dynamics – a more favourable risk backdrop, with decelerating economic and earnings growth – particularly inspiring,” Jonathan Golub, the chief US equity strategist at Credit Suisse, told clients earlier this week.
Here’s a snapshot of some US-listed companies who have said growth this year may slow from current levels.
Amazon reported quarterly profits and revenue that topped Wall Street’s estimates back in February.
But the Jeff Bezos-led company offered investors weak sales guidance, causing at least five analysts to slash their price targets, pointing to slowing trends across some business segments.
Following the report, Morgan Stanley analysts said the fact that Amazon’s growth was broadly slowing – though still growing – speaks to how incremental e-commerce growth is becoming “somewhat more difficult and expensive.”
While robust quarterly profits beat out estimates, investors were focused on the outlook for the rest of the year.
Nike said on Thursday’s call with analysts that foreign-exchange pressures would dent revenue growth during its fourth-quarter. The sneaker giant reported 7% revenue growth in North America and a 19% gain in China – both reflecting a quarter-over-quarter slowdown.
Still, the stock is trading within striking distance of its all-time high.
Profits and revenue both topped analysts’ expectations, but the burger chain said it expected comparable same-store sales growth of between 0% and 1% for fiscal year 2019.
That included the menu price increases of roughly 1.5% that were put into effect last December.
Caterpillar missed both analysts’ profits and guidance expectations in its latest quarterly report.
The industrial giant said it expects full-year profits of $US11.75 to $US12.75 a share, falling short of the $US12.72 that analysts were expecting.
“Our outlook assumes a modest sales increase based on the fundamentals of our diverse end markets as well as the macroeconomic and geopolitical environment,” Jim Umpleby, the chairman and CEO, said in a statement.
FedEx shares tumbled earlier this week after the company once again reported quarterly results that fell short of expectations.
The company blamed performance on a slowing global macroeconomic environment.
“Our third quarter financial results were below our expectations and we are focused on initiatives to improve our performance,” said Frederick Smith, the company’s chairman and CEO, in a statement on Tuesday.
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