S&P 500 Companies Deliver Best Start to Earnings Season Since 2012

  • 90% of the S&P 500 companies that filed quarterly earnings last week beat Wall Street’s targets.
  • That’s the index’s best start to an earnings season since at least 2012, Bank of America said.
  • The robust profits came despite investors’ fears that banking turmoil will fuel a credit crunch.

S&P 500 companies are off to their best start to an earnings season in over a decade, despite lingering fears that last month’s banking turmoil will lead to a credit crunch that chips away at corporate profits.

A full 27 of the 30 S&P 500 companies that reported quarterly results last week beat Wall Street’s earnings-per-share targets, according to a Bank of America research note published Monday.

The fact that 90% of the companies surpassed analysts’ EPS forecasts meant the benchmark index delivered its “best beat rate after Week 1 since at least 2012,” a team led by Savita Subramanian, the bank’s head of US equity and quantitative strategy, said in the note.

Moreover, 20 of the businesses that outperformed on earnings also beat Wall Street’s sales targets, per Bank of America.

US companies  are one week into the first-quarter earnings season for 2023, which covers the three months ending March 31 and gives investors their first chance to gauge how last month’s banking turmoil has impacted the profits of the country’s largest enterprises.

Asset managers including Allianz and Fidelity International have warned the chaos that rocked the banking sector last quarter could spark a credit crunch and fuel an economic slump in the US.

They believe that regional lenders will tighten their credit standards to bolster their balance sheets in the aftermath of the fiasco. That could lead to a decline in overall spending levels, with American consumers and companies finding it more difficult to take out loans.

Bank of America said that Fastenal provided last week’s best example of a potential credit crunch weighing on a company’s first-quarter results. The S&P 500-listed supplier beat analysts’ earnings forecast but warned of weaker sales last month.

“A massive, systemic financial confidence shock appears to have been averted, but tighter credit is manifesting in the real economy,” Subramanian’s team wrote in their Monday note.

“Fastenal, an industrial bellwether, cited softer March sales especially in manufacturing, and consumption slowed in March across income cohorts,” they added.

The bank stuck with its view that the S&P 500 as a whole will average a below-consensus EPS of $200 this earnings season – but noted that outlook “could be too low if March’s events prove to be idiosyncratic and temporary.”

Read more: Brace for the US economy to crash-land as the banking turmoil creates a credit crunch, Allianz says

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