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Evercore strategists back dour S&P 500 view, expect weaker earnings outlook

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LA Post: Evercore strategists back dour S&P 500 view, expect weaker earnings outlook
April 15, 2024
Lewis Krauskopf - Reuters

By Lewis Krauskopf

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. earnings estimates are likely to weaken as companies issue cautious outlooks, according to Evercore ISI strategists, who stood by their view the S&P 500 will end the year well lower than current levels.

As first-quarter reporting season gets underway, 30 S&P 500 companies have posted results so far with a 6% earnings beat, according to BofA Global Research. Stocks slumped on Friday following results from several major banks, the first big day of the quarterly reporting season.

The S&P 500 through Friday had advanced 7.4% this year, and the stability in 2024 earnings estimates has been a supportive factor for stocks, Evercore equity and derivatives strategists led by Julian Emanuel said in a note.

But that is "unlikely to persist," the strategists said.

"We believe the corporate outlooks will be more guarded, and EPS revised lower," Evercore said in a research note on Sunday.

The strategists reiterated their year-end target for the S&P 500 of 4,750, about 7% below Friday's close of 5,123.41 for the benchmark index.

Current consensus estimates for earnings are optimistic even for a “no landing” economic scenario, Evercore said.

The strategists said they were defensively positioned, including "outperform" ratings on the consumer staples, healthcare and communication services sectors, as they anticipate "intensifying volatility."

Evercore's dour outlook comes while other strategists have boosted their S&P 500 targets in recent weeks as stocks have gotten off to a strong start this year.

The Wells Fargo Investment Institute on Monday raised their year-end S&P 500 forecast to a range of 5,100-5,300, up from 4,800-5,000 previously. WFII's strategists also lifted their targets for S&P 500 earnings and U.S. economic growth in 2024.

(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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