Our weekly Forecast Index update reveals forward-looking commentary reaching 12-month lows, but a glimmer of hope remains in certain Industrial and Healthcare markets.

Amenity Analytics
January 24, 2019

Amenity Forecast Index: Sentiment at 12-month Low but Pockets of Strength Remain

Amenity Forecast Index: Sentiment at 12-month Low but Pockets of Strength Remain

Last week we introduced version 1.0 of the Amenity Forecast Index, which leverages Amenity Analytics' NLP platform to track and analyze earnings sentiment of only forward-looking commentary from U.S. quarterly earnings calls. This analysis goes beyond the stated revenue and EPS guidance to capture all significant forward-looking financial commentary: market share, new products,pricing, inflation, margins, growth, Capex, hiring, share repurchase, etc. 

Caution Emerges in Text and Data

We updated the Index for this week’s slate of corporate earnings and used our text analytics platform to identify the key themes driving the Index.

We highlight 5 key takeaways

  1. The Forecast Index declined to 32 from 40 a week ago and is now at a 12-month low
  2. China challenges continue to remain front and center this week
  3. The auto sector is showing deteriorating trends
  4. Cost pressures and currency headwinds remain an overhang
  5. All hope is not lost: pockets of strength in certain Industrial and Healthcare markets

1. The Amenity Forecast Index declined to 32 from 40 a week ago

The Amenity Forecast Index is measured on a scale of -100 to +100 on a rolling 30-day basis. As the chart below shows, the Index has firmly been in positive territory throughout 2018. However, the degree of bullishness in management sentiment waned as the year progressed, most significantly in June.

Have expectations been lowered enough that this earnings season can show an uptick? Or is “incrementally cautious”the new normal? Stay tuned for weekly updates to the Index throughout earnings season:

2. China challenges are front and center

TE Connectivity (1/23/19):

  • "Our revised 2019 guidance is driven entirely by weaker markets. This is primarily driven by China with some weakness in European auto as well."

TE Connectivity (1/23/19):

  • "We expect communication segment to be down mid-single digits organically driven by Asia."

Union Pacific (1/24/19):

  • "For 2019, our Ag Product groups expect uncertainty to continue in the grain market due to foreign tariffs."

Las Vegas Sands (1/23/19):

  • "The VIP segment will continue to be challenging, I believe."

Intel (1/24/19):

  • "Trade and macro concerns, especially in China, have intensified. Cloud service providers shifted from building capacity to absorbing capacity, and the NAND pricing environment has further deteriorated. Those incremental headwinds are impacting our revenue expectations and slightly reducing our operating margin percentage forecast."

Western Digital (1/24/19):

  • "Geopolitical and macroeconomic conditions have contributed to our customers having a more cautious outlook."

Avnet (1/24/19):

  • "The extent of the current slowdown in Asia is difficult to predict. During the quarter, we saw order weakness accelerate as time progressed, which makes calling the bottom somewhat challenging."

3. Auto sector is pumping the brakes

Stanley Back & Decker (1/22/19):

  • "In the Industrial segment, we expect a relatively flat organic performance, reflecting softening conditions within the automotive end market."

TE Connectivity (1/23/19):

  • "In our transportation segment, we are now assuming that global auto production will decline 4% to 5% in our fiscal year compared to our prior outlook of flat production in our fiscal year."

Union Pacific (1/24/19):

  • "The U.S. light vehicle sales forecast for 2019 is 16.8 million units, down about 2% from 2018."

4. Nothing new, but Cost Pressures and Currency Headwinds are still and overhang

Procter & Gamble (1/23/19):

  • "Commodity costs are expected to be a $400 million headwind and trucking cost will likely be up 25% or more versus last year’s levels."

Kimberly-Clark (1/23/19):

  • "We expect commodities and currencies in total will be a headwind on operating profit of about 20%, including a high single-digit drag from currency rates. We expect to offset much of that with higher pricing."

Procter & Gamble (1/23/19):

  • "We’re currently forecasting a foreign exchange headwind on earnings of about $900 million after tax."

Waters (1/23/19):

  • "At today’s rates, currency translation is expected to decrease first quarter sales growth by 2 to 3 percentage points."

IBM (1/22/19):

  • "We expect about a 1 to 2 point headwind on currency."

5. All hope is not lost: pockets of strength in certain Industrial and Healthcare markets.

Union Pacific (1/24/19):

  • "In addition, we anticipate continued strength in Industrial Production, which drives growth in several commodities."

United Rentals (1/24/19):

  • "So a lot of momentum going into 2019 and broad-based market activity to support a positive forecast."

W.W. Grainger (1/24/19):

  • "U.S. revenue is expected to be driven by customer acquisition and increasing share of wallet. We continue to expect this business to grow 300 to 400 basis points faster than the market, with expected market growth of approximately 1%to 4%, which includes 1% of price."

Abbott Laboratories (1/23/19):

  • "For 2019, we’re forecasting continued strong organic sales growth and double-digit EPS growth."

Steel Dynamics (1/22/19):

  • "We continue to see strong order and strong customer optimism. We’re beginning 2019 with an even greater project backlog than this time last year, which is a positive indicator for nonresidential construction."

Aspen Technology (1/23/19):

  • "There continues to be a positive outlook for technology spending overall, and we believe capital-intensive industries are in the midst of a secular technology adoption cycle."

Norfolk Southern (1/24/19):

  • "We are excited about the momentum we are delivering and our operations, and we expect our performance to continue to improve in 2019 and beyond."

Join the Amenity Viewer Beta Program today to analyze earnings call transcriptions and enable you to spot outliers, identify critical insights, and understand key drivers.

This communication does not represent investment advice. Transcript text provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

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