The earnings season is in full swing this week, and we have gotten reports from some key companies over the last few days with more to come. So far there has been a great divide in the results and reactions to the earnings reports. I expressed many times heading into this earnings season that I was concerned about earnings declining on a year over year basis, or at the very least the pace of earnings growth slowing dramatically. The reports are showing that my concerns were warranted in some cases, but there has been a pretty big divide between the performances.
Some of the oldest and most widely held stocks are disappointing investors while newer, tech oriented names are beating expectations and moving higher. It is almost a case of old economy versus new economy when it comes to the moves after earnings.
I took note of eight companies in particular that have reported earnings over the last few days. There are three companies that are so old that they were founded before my father was even born—Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT), UPS (NYSE:UPS), and 3M (NYSE: MMM).
There are three companies that were founded after my oldest son was born—Twitter (Nasdaq: TWTR), eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY), and Facebook (Nasdaq: FB). Then there are two stocks that were formed after I was born, but before my son was born—Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and AT&T (NYSE: T).
Looking at the three older companies, Caterpillar announced earnings on Wednesday (4/24) and the company beat its EPS estimate, but comments by the CFO concerned investors and the stock fell just over 3% on the day.
UPS announced earnings on Thursday (4/25/) before the opening bell and the company missed on its EPS and revenue estimates, citing weather issues for the disappointment. The stock was down 6.75% at midday on Thursday.
3M also announced before the open on Thursday, and the company missed its EPS estimate, it slashed its 2019 forecast, and it announced that it would cut its workforce by 2,000 jobs. The stock was down 10.8% at midday.
Collectively, those three stocks have been in business for over 300 years. They are old school, industrial type businesses and they were all hit with sharp selling after the earnings’ reports.
Let’s look at the newer companies, the ones younger than my oldest son. Twitter announced first quarter earnings results Tuesday morning and the company beat both its EPS and revenue estimates. More importantly, the company saw a boost in monthly active users. The stock jumped 15.6% on Tuesday.
eBay released first quarter results after the closing bell on Tuesday. The company beat both its EPS and revenue estimates and it raised its guidance for the year. The stock gained just over 5% on Wednesday.
Facebook reported after the close on Wednesday, and it beat the EPS estimate and the revenue estimate. The company also announced it had set aside $3 billion for an expected fine from the FTC. As of midday on Thursday, the stock was up 6.6%.
Finally, the companies that are in that middle range, not older than me, but older than my son. AT&T announced earnings on Wednesday (4/24) before the opening bell. The company missed its revenue estimate for the first quarter and the stock fell just over 4% on the day.
Microsoft, believe it or not, which was founded in 1975 (and is older than AT&T), announced its quarterly results on Wednesday evening. The company beat both its EPS and its revenue estimates, and that sent the stock up over 4% in early trading. The gain boosted the market cap of the company over the $1 trillion mark for the first time, joining Apple and Amazon as the only companies to surpass that threshold.
Looking at AT&T and Microsoft, you could argue that both are involved in technology, but one is in the software industry, and the other is in the communication services industry. The communication services sector is a newly recognized sector that includes some old telecom sector names. If you look at it, they tried to rebrand the sector by mixing telecom stocks with social media and internet stocks. The old telecom sector was apparently too boring.
The point being that AT&T is more of an old-school telecom name and Microsoft is more of a tech sector name—and the earnings results reflect these thoughts.
Is this where we are in the investment cycle? Old economy names like UPS, Caterpillar, 3M, and AT&T are disappointing investors while new economy names like Facebook, Twitter, eBay and Microsoft surprise investors with positive results.
It is still early in the earnings season, but this was an observation I felt was worth sharing.