Barclays becomes latest on Wall Street to slash 2019 stock forecast on fear of an earnings slowdown

Key Points
  • Barclays lowers its year-end price target for the S&P 500 to 2,750 from 3,000.
  • The bank cites bearish retail investor sentiment and slowing non-U.S. economic growth.
  • At least five Wall Street firms have slashed their 2019 forecasts for stocks, including Canaccord Genuity, Credit Suisse, Citi, and BMO Capital Markets.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters

Barclays just joined a stampede of Wall Street banks cutting stock forecasts for 2019.

The bank lowered its year-end price target for the to 2,750 from 3,000, citing bearish retail investor sentiment, slowing non-U.S. economic growth and slowing earnings growth. At least five banks have recently dimmed their outlook for U.S. stocks.

"Our base case remains that equities returns will be positive for 2019, although we now see a more limited upside. Retail sentiment has turned significantly bearish. Outlook for non-US economic growth is not as constructive," Barclays' Maneesh Deshpande said in a note to clients on Tuesday.

While the recent comeback in stocks provided some relief, the tumultuous 2018, especially the monster sell-off in December, has prompted Wall Street analysts to dial back their projections for 2019 in the face of a slowing economy, the ongoing trade battles and the uncertainty around the Federal Reserve's monetary policy. The S&P 500 is up 2 percent in the new year, recovering from its worst year since the financial crisis.

The price action in stocks "was exacerbated by mutual fund outflows and poor liquidity," Deshpande said. "Mutual fund flows were significantly negative in December after being relatively modest in the fall. Market depth for S&P 500 futures is at all time lows indicating that risk capital provision by market makers is significantly lower."

Since December 2018, at least five Wall Street firms have slashed their 2019 forecasts for stocks, including Canaccord Genuity, Credit Suisse, Citi and BMO Capital Markets.

"The reduction of 2019 S&P 500 target is driven by a combination of a drop in EPS projection and earnings multiple. Our bottom-up EPS model forecast has declined substantially. Our fair value target for the P/E multiple has also declined driven by the drop in headline inflation and inflation volatility," Deshpande added.

Barclays dropped its earnings-per-share projection to $171 from $176 for 2019.

The S&P 500 rose 0.5 percent to 2,563.8 in Tuesday's trading.

— CNBC's Michael Bloom contributed reporting.