COVID-19 Earnings Season Survival Guide

Amid a global pandemic, this earnings season will be like no other…

This story was originally published here.

Earnings season was usually a feel-good time of the year … that was in the “Before Coronavirus Era.”

It’s only been a month or so, but it feels like those times are ancient history.

In a typical quarter, the vast majority of companies beat the average analyst forecast. For example, nearly 70% of S&P 500 Index companies topped estimates last quarter. Then corporate management hopped on a conference call and talked up financial milestones or new products.

This time will be very different.

First-quarter earnings will take an historic hit from the coronavirus lockdown. That’s a given. Just think about how many public companies have completely halted most of their business activity, such as Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL), Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE: DAL) and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. (NYSE: AMC). Not to even mention the companies that have had to substantially reduce activity.

Analysts have been slashing their earnings per share estimates for all quarters this year. Just take a look at this chart:

change in S&P500 earnings since dec 2019

First-quarter earnings estimates for the S&P 500 have been cut 14% since the year started … and second-quarter estimates are down nearly 25%!

Editor's Note: To see how to sift through the bad news, click here.

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