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The Dow has a big revenue problem

Even as the Dow Jones industrial average crossed above the widely watched 18,000 level Monday, some very dour news is expected out of the 30 Dow companies.

For the first quarter, analysts are collectively calling for the Dow stocks to report a 4.3 percent decline in revenue versus the first quarter of 2015. Meanwhile, S&P 500 revenue is expected to drop 1.3 percent.

"Growth is very hard to come by; you've seen economists ratchet down their Q1 expectations for growth down to below 1 percent," Convergex's chief market strategist, Nicholas Colas, said Friday on CNBC's "Trading Nation." "These numbers definitely confirm that."

In fact, this expected revenue decline is the second worst since the financial crisis.

For Gina Sanchez of Chantico Global, the revenue drought presents a warning sign for investors.

"It's basically confirming that we're in a very, very weak recovery," Sanchez said Friday on "Trading Nation." " I'm not going to say that we're headed into a recession, but I'm going to say that this is a signal that things have to move a lot more smoothly and that the S&P 500, where it is today, is still overvalued."

Further, the Dow's revenue problem can't solely be pegged on energy. Removing the two energy stocks in the Dow merely reduces the size of expected decline to 2.3 percent. This is distinct from the situation for the S&P 500, where removing the energy sector changes the expectation from a 1.3 percent drop to a 1.7 percent increase.

Of course, the average company does beat its earnings and revenue expectations. Out of the first 41 S&P companies to report earnings, 56 percent have beaten on revenue, while 71 percent have reported better earnings than expected.

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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Brian Sullivan

Brian Sullivan is co-anchor of CNBC's "Power Lunch" (M-F,1PM-3PM ET), one of the network's longest running programs, as well as the host of the daily investing program "Trading Nation." He is also a frequent guest on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and other NBC properties.

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