S&P 500 Q1 earnings estimated growth improves; stocks up for week

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. first-quarter estimated earnings growth is looking stronger at nearly the halfway mark of the reporting period, with corporate results giving a boost to stocks this week after recent weakness.

S&P 500 year-over-year earnings growth for the first quarter of 2024 is now seen at 5.6%, according to LSEG data on Friday. That is up from 4.3% the day before.

The latest estimate is based on results from 229 of the S&P 500 companies and forecasts for the rest, with about 78% of reports beating analysts’ earnings expectations.

Some 90% of reports from the heavily-weighted communication services are surpassing Wall Street earnings estimates and 88% of reports from the technology sector are beating.

The S&P 500 is up more than 2% for the week but remains down more than 2% since the end of March.

Helping to drive Friday’s gains was a rally in Alphabet and Microsoft shares, a day after both companies reported stronger-than-expected results.

But results overall this earnings season have not been all positive, said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“It’s still a little early to draw a lot of conclusions, but I’m going to call this a mixed earnings season,” he said.

A disappointing forecast from Meta Platforms earlier this week offset some of the earnings optimism.

Also, shares of Intel on Friday were down sharply after it late Thursday gave a downbeat forecast.

Next week brings results from more big names including Amazon.com and Apple.

LSEG noted that the first-quarter forecast has been impacted heavily by an adjustment for Bristol Myers Squibb because of a $12 billion one-time charge related to its acquisition of Karuna Therapeutics.

Without that one-time item, S&P 500 earnings were expected to have risen 8.7% year-over-year as of Friday, LSEG said.

(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; editing by Diane Craft)