GOLDMAN: Here are 4 big stories corporate America is talking about right now

Most of the S&P 500 companies have revealed their Q2 financial results in recent weeks.

Goldman Sachs’ David Kostin and his team have read all of the press releases and listened to all of the conference calls that accompanied these announcements. And they summarized their findings in a massive 54-page note they circulated to clients on Wednesday.

Four big macro themes jumped out to them. From the note (verbatim):

Theme 1: Earnings at risk from Chinese slowdown

Slowing economic activity in China was cited as a near-term risk to earnings across most sectors. Industrial and commodity-linked industries were particularly focused on slowing Chinese economic activity. However, managements made note of their positive medium-term outlook for the country.

Theme 2: US economic outlook mixed

Managements held mixed views on the state of the US economy. On the one hand, many highlighted slowing activity in commodity-linked industries and uncertainty related to impending Fed rate hikes. However, others took solace in the continued pace of steady economic expansion in the US.

Theme 3: Inflation nascent for some, subdued outlook for others

Some firms saw nascent signs of inflation and increased pricing power, while others characterised inflation as subdued in light of falling commodity prices. Firms with US- centric sales cited some regional and industry-specific wage pressures and a capacity to increase prices. However, multinational firms noted a more subdued pricing environment, particularly among those exposed to falling commodity prices.

Theme 4: Lower commodities, stronger USD a risk to earnings

Falling commodity prices and a stronger USD weighed on earnings. The sharp declines in oil and metal prices were particularly harmful to Energy, Industrials, and Materials companies, while consumer-driven firms cited little incremental increases in consumer spending on the back of lower gasoline prices. A stronger USD continued to serve as a headwind to earnings, a trend which managements expect to persist.

There aren’t a lot of surprises here. But it certainly confirms a lot of the existing concerns that are already out there.

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