Earnings Season Playbook: Q4 2022 Reports To Watch
As the first earnings season of 2023 starts to take hold, the S&P 500’s total return of -18.1% in 2022 (the third-worst year for the index since 1950) will surely be weighing on the minds of investors.
Persistent inflation, “jumbo” Fed rate hikes, and an ever-increasing recession probability have significantly impacted corporate earnings and forward guidance. This upcoming earnings season will play a crucial role in charting the market’s course for the year. Extra market monitoring, due diligence, and attention to detail are required to navigate the best and worst of Q4’s earnings palooza.
“Earnings Season”: the months of the year during which most publicly-traded companies release quarterly financial results & earnings reports, notably earnings-per-share (EPS) and revenue, usually in January, April, July, and October.
Whether you’re a buy-and-hold investor or one who likes to “trade earnings”, knowing the top names to watch this earnings season can help inform your approach for the quarter and beyond. Whichever you are, our Earnings Season Playbook provides a thorough refresher before the onslaught of new information that earnings season brings.
Thousands of companies will share their financial results with the public this earnings season, but for varying reasons, only some will make it into the headlines. In an attempt to cut through the noise, these lists take a data-driven approach to identify top companies to watch this earnings season.
Leading Sectors of 2022 and Major Stocks
With the exception of Energy names, 2022 was a rough year for stocks.
Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX), two of the largest integrated oil-and-gas companies, comprise 38% or more of leading energy ETFs like XLE, IYE, and VDE. As such, their Q4 reports and commentary could play a large role in shaping the sector’s outlook for 2023. Both Exxon and Chevron are currently trading near their all-time highs. Investors will primarily be listening for management guidance regarding the price of oil, specifically whether prices will break above $100 per barrel again. Chevron reports Q4 results on January 27th, with Exxon following shortly thereafter on February 1st (est.).
Though sensitive to Fed rate hikes, the Utilities sector took a relatively light hit compared to most other sectors in 2022, many of which settled in bear market territory.
Big utility players NextEra Energy (NEE) and Duke Energy (DUK) report earnings on January 25th (est.) and February 10th (est.), respectively. Large earnings surprises are rare for these big-dividend payers who boast steady share prices, EPS, and earnings estimates. However, the rapid rise of fixed-income yields has translated into considerable declines for the share prices of these two names. Other utility players could be in for a rude awakening on these earnings calls as the often-regarded bond substitutes continue to face competition from the bond market itself.
After years of record growth, Amazon (AMZN) encountered some bumps in the road in 2022. In Q1 2022, the e-commerce giant posted its first quarter of negative EPS since Q1 2015, and followed it with another negative EPS figure in Q2. As a result, Amazon’s share price got cut in half. A return to in-person shopping, coupled with the macroeconomic woes of inflation and rate hikes, has made even the largest e-commerce giant in the land susceptible to underperformance. Can Amazon return to profitability when it releases earnings on February 3rd (est.)?
Shares of The Home Depot (HD) sank nearly 24% in 2022 amid some cooling off in the housing market. Sales of single-family homes, both New and Existing, were down 23.7% and 32.8% respectively in 2022, while the Supply of New Single Family Homes has surged higher. Furthermore, the Median Sales Price for Existing Homes has steadily declined since July after surpassing $400,000 for the first time ever. With mortgage rates rising and talks of a recession pushing home renovations further down the to-do lists of many Americans, what outlook will The Home Depot construct for shareholders on its February 22nd (est.) earnings call?
Turning to Communication Services, Facebook parent company Meta Platforms (META) had some noteworthy earnings release days in 2022…but for the wrong reasons. Meta recorded the largest single-day price drop for a stock in the history of U.S. public markets back in February 2022. Fast-forward to Q3 earnings in October 2022, and Meta logged another large one-day drop of -24.6%. The stock ended the year down 65%. Revenue declines coupled with large R&D expenditures have turned investors’ moods sour on Meta. Such financial events were once considered unheard of, but the company will have an opportunity to turn things around on its February 2nd (est.) earnings call.
Google parent company Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL) has typically been rewarded for topping earnings estimates. However, that has not been the case for its last two quarterly reports, which have both brought negative EPS surprises. Throw in CEO Sundar Pichai’s warning that Alphabet is facing “the toughest macroeconomic conditions” in the past 10 years, and you get the world’s third-largest company down 39% in 2022. Pichai recently called on company leaders to temper budgets and also become “20% more productive”. On February 2nd (est.), investors will be reviewing Alphabet’s Q4 earnings for any positive impacts resulting from internal guidance.
The same reports from Q3 earnings season can also be used to identify names at the bottom of the barrel. Last quarter, 29 companies from both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 reported EPS figures that were 20% or more below estimates. If these were isolated performance lapses, could these names be poised to surprise the street this earnings season?
Combining the constituent lists of the S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 indices results in 523 unique companies. 105 have beat analyst EPS targets in each of the last eight consecutive quarters. With 20% of those 523 companies on such a long and positive earnings run, four of these names have distinguished themselves further by also beating their EPS targets by 100% or more, on average:
To keep you organized this earnings season, this calendar provides scheduled reporting dates for all 49 names mentioned in this post. A similar earnings calendar can also be created in YCharts for all stocks, or constituents of specific indices.
Corporate Profits at the Market Level
Since the March 2020 bottom, equities rallied on strong corporate profits and surrounding exuberance—until 2022. According to Standard & Poor’s, the composite EPS for all S&P 500 stocks reached an all-time high of 53.94 in Q4 2021. However, composite EPS as of Q2 2022, the latest data available, came in 20% below that high. According to forward estimates, S&P 500 earnings aren’t projected to reclaim that high-water mark until Q3 2023. But the road to new highs might start this quarter—the S&P 500 EPS estimate for Q4 2022 is 47.81, representing a nearly 12% increase from Q2.
The recent downward trend of market-level EPS has pushed market valuations in the same direction. The S&P 500 price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio rose throughout all four quarters of 2020, but fell in all four quarters of 2021 as well as the first two quarters of 2022. As of Q2 2022, the S&P 500 P/E ratio stands at 19.7, 19% below its historical average of 24.4. The S&P 500 Forward P/E is estimated to be higher in the last two quarters of 2022 but then fall throughout 2023. Will S&P 500 earnings hold up in Q4, or will they continue downward?
To find companies that have beat analyst expectations over consecutive quarters, use Timeseries Analysis to quickly compile and align data like EPS Surprise, Forward EPS Estimates, and Actual EPS. Because companies report financial results on different days throughout earnings season, format unlike data by clicking “Frequency” then select “Market Quarterly” to align all EPS data to the standard quarter-ends.
Armed with properly formatted data, click “Export” then either “Export Data” or “Export to Excel Add-in” (if using the YCharts Excel Add-in, the spreadsheet will be linked to YCharts and automatically update when new data becomes available). From here, you can layer additional formulas to identify which names have a streak of beating expectations.
If you spot a company of interest, use the Earnings Chart Quickflow to dig deeper by visualizing the company’s historical EPS beat and miss trends—and how the share price has responded. The Quickflows Menu is accessed via the blue tab on the right-hand side of YCharts.
Find companies with the biggest earnings beats and misses
Use the Stock Screener to find companies with a positive Earnings Surprise and compare their data side-by-side. In the Stock Screener, add either a broad market index, like the S&P 500, or a more targeted list, such as your portfolio holdings, by clicking “Modify” and toggling between the “Equities” and “My Lists” menus. Then click “Add Filter” and type to search for “EPS Surprise” or related metrics, and set a range or equation for its value.
Click the screen’s name in the upper left corner to save, and distribute to colleagues by clicking “Share” in the upper right corner.
Create a custom earnings season calendar
Click “Data” in the top navigation bar, then “Events Calendar”. From here, a stock earnings calendar can be created by unchecking all Event types except “Earnings”. In the upper left corner, click “Select a List” to filter the calendar by stock style, index, sector, and more.