When companies announces their quarterly financial results, their earnings usually beat estimates made by Wall Street’s analysts and strategists. In fact, companies have been increasingly beating Wall Street’s estimates.
“This is likely attributable to Investor Relations officers guiding the Street analysts to an earnings number the companies know they can beat,” says Rich Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors.
Unfortunately, analysts fall into this trap over and over.
In fact, during the current earnings season, the majority of companies have been beating Wall Street’s estimates yet again.
“76% of companies that have reported are beating analysts’ EPS estimates despite a stall-speed growth rate of 0.3% – also its slowest pace since Q3 2009,” wrote Myles Zyblock, Chief Institutional Strategist for RBC Capital Markets. “It would appear that management was successful in guiding analyst expectations lower, as earnings have surprised by a factor of 5.1%.”
In his latest U.S. Equity Strategy Weekly report, Zyblock sort of issues a mea culpa in a section titled “Fool Me Once, Shame On You, Fool Me Twice…”:
“Despite being fully aware of this historical pattern of conservative corporate guidance heading into earnings season, we were admittedly a bit concerned about how the reports might turn out for this quarter, especially given elevated margins and the troublesome outlook from leading macro data.”
He included this little diagram that needs no introduction:
Photo: RBC Capital Markets