There seems to be a lot of data coming in strong for the US economy lately.
But there is at least one fly in the economic ointment. The news coming out of American corporations has been dismal over the past three months according to FactSet’s John Butters.
“For Q1 2016, 94 companies in the S&P 500 have issued negative EPS guidance and 27 companies have issued positive EPS guidance,” said Butters in a note. “If 94 is the final number for the quarter, it will mark the 2nd highest number of S&P 500 companies issuing negative guidance for a quarter since FactSet began tracking the data in 2006.” (emphasis ours)
As we’ve noted previously, US corporate profits have been declining for two quarters in a row, resulting in a “corporate recession.” And while much of the weakness has been in the energy sector, the weak growth is impacting firms across the board.
“A record number of companies (17) in the Health Care sector have issued negative EPS guidance for Q1,” wrote Butters. “The Industrials (14) and Utilities (4) sectors are also on pace to tie record highs for the number of companies issuing negative EPS guidance for a quarter.”
Oddly enough, said Butters, this isn’t really hitting the stock prices.
“Companies that have issued negative EPS guidance for Q1 have seen an average change in price of +1.0%, which is well above the 5-year average price change of -0.7% for companies issuing negative EPS guidance,” he wrote.
So even in the mountain of negative corporate news, there’s some good.