Big Tech earnings in the week ahead could test stocks’ recent rally

Market Insider

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

An earnings avalanche is coming in the week ahead that could put the stock market’s recent gains to the test.

Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Facebook and Amazon — the biggest of big cap tech — are among the 30% of the S&P 500 companies reporting. A third of the Dow also releases results, including Caterpillar, Coca-Cola, Merck, Boeing and McDonald’s.

“Next week is the real test,” said Lori Calvasina, head of U.S. equity strategy at RBC. “We’re getting a little bit in every sector.”

Of the companies already reporting, nearly 84% have beaten estimates. Earnings are so far expected to be up 34.8% over last year, based on actual reports and estimates, according to I/B/E/S data from Refinitiv.

“The tug-of-war in good versus bad earnings reports has landed in favor of the market with the S&P hitting an all-time high [Thursday]. That may run into difficulty next week,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities. “We may finally be seeing some cracks in the earnings season.”

Both the S&P 500 and Dow notched new highs this week, and the indexes have solid gains for the week so far Friday. Some strategists view the return to those highs as a signal the market is on track for a year-end rally. The Nasdaq was also higher for the week, but it was down nearly 1% midday Friday as tech stocks declined.

“I think we’re going to learn a lot from this reporting season,” said Calvasina. “So far, so good. Better than feared, with no change to underlying demand. Companies are still managing through for the most part. Investors are punishing companies that aren’t, but they’re not punishing the whole market. The market seems very rational right now.”

For instance, Intel shares were pummeled, falling more than 10% midday Friday, after the company’s sales missed expectations. Intel warned an industry-wide component shortage hurt its PC chip business. But other semiconductor stocks did not get pulled down in the decline. The VanEck Semiconductor ETF was down about a half percent Friday.

But Snap sent an industry-wide warning Thursday when its quarterly revenues missed expectations, and it reported that Apple’s privacy changes introduced earlier this year affected its advertising business. The company also said that advertisers were holding back due to supply chain disruptions and labor shortages.

Facebook’s earnings on Monday will be closely watched for any similar comments, as will reports from Alphabet and Twitter Tuesday. All three stocks were lower Friday. Snap plunged nearly 25%. Facebook lost more than 5%.

“Facebook has been the more broken name. It had the Instagram problem. It had the kid problem. It’s had a hard time going up post-earnings. It will be interesting to see if all these problems are priced in or does it go even lower,” said Scott Redler, chief strategic officer at T3Live.com.

Redler said the Snap news was a big surprise, since traders viewed social media as immune to supply chain problems. Even though social media was under pressure as a whole Friday, he said stocks have been able to diverge within sectors recently.

Tesla was able to make a new high, and Netflix is at an all-time high. Every group has winners and losers, but overall the participation is better than it’s been in a while. Five stocks aren’t driving the S&P to the all-time highs,” he said. “It’s a bunch of stocks in every sector.” 

Traders are now watching the Russell 2000, since a breakout in small caps would be a positive for the overall market, he said. Redler trades the the iShares Russell 2000 ETF, or IWM, which was just under $227 Friday. “If the IWM gets above the $230 to $234 area, it could be a signal for more risk on at the end of the year,” he said.

Redler said the market could be challenged in the coming week. “You just had a big 10-day move up. You would think there will be some digestion,” he said. “I don’t want to chase the market here. It feels like we could rest a little bit next week. If it could digest here, and we could get some individual stock movement, that would be healthier than the pain trade, which is straight up.”

There are a few important economic reports in the week ahead, including durable goods Wednesday; third-quarter GDP Thursday and personal consumption expenditures Friday. Friday’s data includes the PCE deflator, the preferred inflation gauge watched by the Federal Reserve.

Higher interest rates

The closely watched 10-year Treasury yield continued to edge higher in the past week, closing in on 1.70%. Market pros are watching to see if the yield will reach 1.74%, the closing high from March, and whether it will begin to worry stock investors. The 10-year yield hit this year’s intraday high of 1.776% on March 30.

“I would say over the next week or two, it’s possible we test it, but I would be a little surprised at this stage if it sustainably breaks through,” said NatWest Markets’ John Briggs. He said yields have been moving higher, as investors now anticipate the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates next year and as the market anticipates more inflation.

“I get a sense that people are more interested in buying here rather than selling,” he said. Bond yields move opposite price. It could be a busy week in the market, as investors adjust for the end of the month

Briggs notes the front end, or the 2-year note yield, has moved faster than the longer end. He said that reflects the market’s increased expectation for rate hikes next year, with two hikes expected by the market in the second half of the year.

Week ahead calendar

Monday

Earnings: Facebook, Restaurant Brands, Otis Worldwide, Kimberly-Clark, Owens-Illinois, HSBC, TrueBlue

Tuesday

Earnings: Alphabet, Microsoft, Visa, Advanced Micro Devices, Texas Instruments, Twitter, Chubb, 3M, General Electric, Robinhood, Eli Lilly, UPS, Novartis, JetBlue, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Archer Daniels Midland, Sherwin-Williams, Invesco, Hasbro, Boston Properties, Teradyne, Fortune Brands, Hawaiian Holdings, NCR, Boyd Gaming

9:00 a.m. S&P/Case-Shiller home prices

9:00 a.m. FHFA home prices

10:00 a.m. New home sales

10:00 a.m. Consumer confidence

Wednesday

Earnings: Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Boeing, General Motors, Ford, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Kraft Heinz, Norfolk Southern, Glaxo SmithKline, General Dynamics, Brink’s, Automatic Data, CME Group, International Paper, Penske Auto Group, eBay, Cognizant, Extra Space Storage, KLA Corp, Aflac, Harley-Davidson, Flex, Suncor, BioMarin, Community Health Systems, iRobot

8:30 a.m. Durable goods

8:30 a.m. Advance economic indicators

Thursday

Earnings: Apple, Amazon, Caterpillar, Comcast, Merck, Northrop Grumman, Altria, Intercontinental Exchange, Sirius XM, Yum Brands, American Tower, Gilead Sciences, Starbucks, Molson Coors, T. Rowe Price, Airbus, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Sanofi, STMicroelectronics, Volkswagen, Royal Dutch Shell, Stanley Black & Decker, AllianceBernstein, Check Point Software, Brunswick, Oshkosh

8:30 a.m. Jobless claims

8:30 a.m. Q3 advance real GDP

10:00 a.m. Pending home sales

Friday

Earnings: Chevron, AbbVie, Colgate-Palmolive, Lazard, Booz Allen Hamilton, Weyerhaeuser, Church and Dwight, CBOE Global Markets, Newell Brands, W.W. Grainger, Cerner, Aon, Charter Communications, Phillips 66, Daimler, Nomura, Eni, BNP Paribas

8:30 a.m. Personal income/spending

8:30 a.m. Q3 employment cost index

9:45 a.m. Chicago PMI

10:00 a.m. Consumer sentiment

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