Investors can look past a bad quarter. Or two. But what happens when it turns into a bad habit?
Investors are zeroing in on seven big companies that just reported, not their first, not their second, but sixth-straight calendar quarter of lower adjusted profit, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data from S&P Capital IQ. The list includes companies like restaurant chain Darden Restaurants, oil company Chevron and software maker Adobe Systems.
The stocks on the downward spiral are mostly familiar. Chevron reported 22% lower adjusted profit in the first quarter. That comes after a 4% decline in the fourth quarter. Lower prices and production hurt.
Then there's the Olive Garden and Red Lobster king: Darden. Investors choked on the company's 30% lower adjusted quarterly profit in the first calendar quarter. Don't blame the weather for scaring people away from popcorn shrimp. Earnings have been falling for more than a year. Don't expect a Darden to catch a turnaround this year, analysts say.
So far, investors don't appear to disturbed by these companies' trend record of lower profit, as an equal-weighted index of these seven is roughly tied with the performance of the S&P 500 since June 2012: