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Analysts Keep Revising Earnings Estimates Upward

With earnings season more than half over, what's the pace of earnings revisions? Are analysts increasing or decreasing earnings estimates?

This is an issue, because many strategists have been revising downward growth expectations for the U.S. economy.

But on the whole, there are still more UPWARD earnings revisions than DOWNWARD.

According to Bespoke, analysts have RAISED forecasts for 702 companies in the S&P 500 (nearly half!) in the last four weeks, and LOWERED estimates for 473 companies.

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That's a net upward revision of 229 companies or 15 percent of the stocks in the index.

Last time net revisions were that high was early February.

Now, if you think this is because earnings are looking like they are improving, and traders are following improving earnings estimates...think again. Because I don't see any clear pattern.

Some of the sectors that have had the highest net negative revisions in the past month (Consumer Discretionary, Telecom) are among the top sector gainers in April. The sector with the highest number of positive net revisions (Energy) is among the worst performers in April.

Health care is the only one that matches a clear pattern: it was the top sector gainer, and also had a very high number of net positive revisions.

Huh? What this tells me is that some traders simply decided to rotate into beaten-up, under-owned, under-loved groups, even in the absence of clear signs of improvement...either because they assume improvement will come, or as a relative value play.

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