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Apple and other big tech stocks report this week – what to watch

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Big tech earnings on deck — here's what to watch

Earnings season is entering its busiest stretch.

This week, 140 S&P 500 companies and 12 Dow stocks are set to report, and some big tech names are at the top of the ticket, including Apple, Facebook and Microsoft.

However, with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic clouding company outlooks, investors are struggling to piece together what to make of the results.

"This is a very difficult earnings season," Steve Chiavarone, portfolio manager at Federated Hermes, told CNBC's "Trading Nation" on Friday. "Look, we know Q1 was bad given what happened in March. We know Q2 is going to be disastrous in terms of what's happening there. But, what we're to see is what's the path forward and when could we start to think about earnings getting back to 2019 levels."

Roughly 28% of the S&P 500 has reported first-quarter results so far. Analysts anticipate earnings for the quarter to fall by around 15%. 

"Given all the uncertainty … the best that you could do is look at the Q1 numbers, try to get some sense of how bad March was and extrapolate that," he said. "What we're focused on this earnings season … looking at those big companies that have an outsize impact on the overall earnings levels — names that we all know like, Alphabet and Microsoft and Facebook and Amazon."

How those stocks perform after earnings will have a larger impact on the market cap-weighted S&P 500 index than some of its smaller components. Alphabet is due to report on Tuesday, Facebook and Microsoft on Wednesday, and Amazon and Apple on Thursday. 

Some of the big tech stocks reporting this week look to be in solid shape even in a volatile market, according to Craig Johnson, chief market technician at Piper Sandler.

"You start looking at some of these charts like Amazon — this is a stock that has broken out to all-time new highs. In fact, you look at a chart like this and based upon the size of the chart, you could see this stock move up to about $3,000 over the next 12 to 18 months," Johnson said during the same segment.

A move to $3,000 for Amazon implies 24% upside from Friday's close. That would mark a record. 

Apple is a "stock that corrected right back to big identifiable support. It's now recaptured its 50-day and 200-day moving average and I think a lot of investors are going to be looking at some of these big large-cap stocks as kind of the marquee names to see what's really happening in the underlying economy. You look at Apple, and it looks like you're setting yourself up for a move back to the old highs around $325ish," he said.

Apple would need to rally 15% to get back to $325. The stock reached a record high of nearly $328 in late January. 

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