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S&P 500 Earnings: The Shining

Summary:
The earnings recession is over. S&P 500 operating earnings per share were eclipsed by the energy recession from Q4-2014 through Q2-2016, when the Thomson Reuters (TR) measure was flat to down on a y/y basis. Growth resumed during the second half of 2016 and first half of 2017. The TR measure of earnings rose 10.1% y/y during Q2-2017 to a new record high, while revenues rose 5.7% y/y. That put the S&P 500 operating profit margin (based on TR data) at a record high of 10.8%. “Ouch” is the sound you just heard from all those reversion-to-the-mean bears, who can go back to sleep. The 52-week forward outlook looks outstanding: (1) S&P 500 forward revenues per share, which tends to be a weekly coincident indicator of actual earnings, continued its linear ascent into record-high territory

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S&P 500 Earnings: The Shining
The earnings recession is over. S&P 500 operating earnings per share were eclipsed by the energy recession from Q4-2014 through Q2-2016, when the Thomson Reuters (TR) measure was flat to down on a y/y basis. Growth resumed during the second half of 2016 and first half of 2017.

The TR measure of earnings rose 10.1% y/y during Q2-2017 to a new record high, while revenues rose 5.7% y/y.

That put the S&P 500 operating profit margin (based on TR data) at a record high of 10.8%. “Ouch” is the sound you just heard from all those reversion-to-the-mean bears, who can go back to sleep. The 52-week forward outlook looks outstanding:

(1) S&P 500 forward revenues per share, which tends to be a weekly coincident indicator of actual earnings, continued its linear ascent into record-high territory through the week of August 10.

(2) S&P 500 forward operating earnings per share, which works well as a 52-week leading indicator of four-quarter-trailing operating earnings, has gone vertical since March 2016. It works great during economic expansions, but terribly during recessions. If there is no recession in sight, then the prediction of this indicator is that four-quarter-trailing earnings per share is heading from $126 currently (through Q2) to $140 over the next four quarters.

Some sectors shone more brightly than others during Q2. Here is the y/y performance derby for the S&P 500 revenues growth: Energy (14.3%), Tech (9.7), Industrials (7.8), S&P 500 (5.7), Utilities (5.3), Consumer Staples (4.8), Financials ex-Real Estate (4.4), Consumer Discretionary (3.5), Health Care (2.4), Real Estate (0.8), Materials (-1.4), and Telecom (-3.9).

Here is the same for earnings growth: Energy (returned to a profit), Telecom (45.8%), Tech (34.3), S&P 500 (19.6), Utilities (14.2), Financials ex-Real Estate (13.0), Industrials (12.5), Health Care (8.6), Consumer Staples (6.7), Consumer Discretionary (1.9), Materials (-0.4), and Real Estate (-14.6).

S&P 500 Earnings: The Shining
Dr. Ed Yardeni

Dr. Ed Yardeni is the President and Chief Investment Strategist of Yardeni Research, Inc., a provider of independent investment strategy and economics research for institutional investors. In this blog, we highlight some of the more interesting relationships and developments that should be of interest to investors. Our premium research service is designed for institutional investors.

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