All of a sudden, US companies are getting a lot more optimistic

US companies have seen their profits take hit after hit for the last three quarters. In fact, the corporate sector has been in an earnings recession for some time.

Predictably, this has weighed on the outlook for these firms. Downgrades in earnings expectations became a constant, and things got ugly when Wall Street turned an eye on earnings to start the year.

It may be encouraging then to know that the same US firms that seemed so downbeat just a few months ago appear to have changed their tune.

John Butters at FactSet pointed out that for the first time since they have been keeping track of the data, during the second quarter, more S&P 500 companies have issued expectations for earnings over the next fiscal year that are above the average analyst estimates than below.

“The second quarter of 2016 marks the first time that the percentage of companies issuing negative EPS guidance for the current fiscal year is below 50% at the end of a quarter since FactSet began tracking this metric in Q2 2012,” wrote Butters in a note to clients Wednesday.

Additionally, the strength of these improving outlooks is across a variety of sector’s in the market.

“Five sectors have recorded a decrease in the number of companies issuing negative EPS guidance for the current fiscal year since the end of last quarter, led by the Health Care (-14) and Industrials (-6) sectors,” said Butters.

“On the other hand, seven sectors have recorded an increase in the number of companies issuing positive EPS guidance for the current fiscal year since the end of last quarter, led by the Health Care (+13) and Industrials (+9) sectors.”

Additionally, the raw number of companies in the S&P 500 making negative announcements is on track to be its lowest since 2012.

“After hitting a record high number in Q1 2016 (96), the number of companies issuing negative EPS pre-announcements for Q2 2016 has declined by 15 compared to the first quarter,” said the note.

“If 81 is the final number for the second quarter, it will mark the lowest number of companies issuing negative EPS guidance for a quarter since Q4 2012 (79).”

Typically, companies announce negative guidance before earnings in order to prepare investors and attempt to mitigate the impact of the disappointing news on the stock.

To be fair, the guidance is lifting itself off the mat from an incredibly low level. It’s not hard to improve EPS when it’s garbage to begin with. The trend, however, is encouraging that more companies are expecting growth.

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