(HUM) Attention Shifts to Jobs – Earnings Preview

Earnings Preview – Week of April 30th

The focus this week will be on the labor market, with the April non-farm payroll report coming out on Friday. Many will be hoping that this report will provide confirmation that last month’s disappointment was just a one-off event and the positive trend line of the preceding months is still in place.

Jobs aside, we are still in the midst of the first quarter 2012 reporting season, though we have crossed the mid-point of the cycle with about 60% of the results already in. With another 124 S&P 500 companies reporting results in the coming week, we will have results from roughly 84% of the companies by the end of this week.

The first quarter earnings season has turned out to be much stronger relative to pre-season expectations. For the 60% of the companies that have already reported, total earnings growth is tracking 9.4%, with roughly 71% coming out with positive earnings surprises. Most of the growth is coming through revenue gains, with aggregate margins essentially flat from the year-earlier level. This is a far cry from pre-season expectations, when aggregate earnings were expected to be down modestly from the year-earlier period.

  • We have the March Personal Income & Outlays report coming out before the markets open, with expectations for a 0.3% increase in personal income following last month’s 0.2% gain.
  • While income growth has been kind of muted lately, the focus will be on the spending side, which is expected to have increased by 0.4% in March following the strong 0.8% gain in February. Given the strong consumer spending component in the advance first quarter GDP report, the spending expectations will likely prove conservative.
  • Before markets open, earnings reports from Humana (HUM), NYSE Euronext (NYX) and Loews Corp. (L) will come out before the market opens.

Tuesday – 5/1

  • There are no major economic releases before the markets open, but the April Manufacturing ISM survey and the March Construction Spending reports come out afterward.
  • The ISM reading is expected to come down a bit from preceding month’s reading of 53.4, while Construction Spending is expected to show a positive 0.4% growth after February’s 1.1% decline.
  • On the earnings front, the major releases in the morning are from Pfizer (PFE), Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Avon Products (AVP), while CBS Corp (CBS) and Motorola Mobility (MMI) report after the close.

Wednesday – 5/2

  • We will get a preview of the non-farm jobs report coming out Friday morning through the Employment Report from Automatic Data Processing (ADP) before the market opens. We will also get the March Factory Orders after the market opens.
  • On the earnings front, we will get reports from Time Warner (TWX), Comcast (CMCSA), MasterCard (MA), and CVS Caremark (CVS) in the morning, while Visa (V), Whole Foods (WFM) and Allstate (ALL) report after the close.

Thursday – 5/3

  • We will get another look at the labor market through the weekly Jobless Claims data in the morning, while the ISM Non-manufacturing survey will come out a little after markets open. The expectations are for Jobless Claims to decline from last week’s 388K level, while the ISM reading is expected to come down a bit from March’s level of 56.
  • On the earnings front, we will get reports from Kraft (KFT), Viacom (VIAB), Cablevision (CVC) and Sara Lee (SLE) before the open, while AIG (AIG) reports after the close.


  • We will get the April non-farm payroll report in the morning, with expectations for gains of about 165K jobs during the month. This report has assumed a lot of significance, particularly following last month’s miss and the relatively underwhelming first quarter GDP report.
  • The major earnings releases before the market open include Estee Lauder (EL) and AON Corp (AON).

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