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Record-High Number of S&P 500 Companies Issuing Positive EPS Guidance for Q4

Earnings

By John Butters  |  January 19, 2021

Heading into the peak weeks of the fourth quarter earnings season, 85 S&P 500 companies have issued EPS guidance for the quarter. This number is below the five-year average of 102. Of these 85 companies, 29 have issued negative EPS guidance and 56 have issued positive EPS guidance. The number of companies issuing negative EPS is below the five-year average (68), while the number of companies issuing positive EPS guidance is above the five-year average (34).

No. of S&P 500 Companies Issuing EPS Guidance

If 56 is the final number of S&P 500 companies issuing positive EPS guidance for the quarter, it will mark the highest number of S&P 500 companies issuing positive EPS guidance for a quarter since FactSet began tracking this data in 2006. The current record for the highest number of S&P 500 companies issuing positive EPS guidance for a quarter is 51, which was occurred in Q1 2018.

S&P 500 Positive EPS Guidance

What is driving the positive EPS guidance for the fourth quarter? At the sector level, the Information Technology and Industrials sectors have the highest number of companies issuing positive EPS guidance for the quarter.

In the Information Technology sector, 29 companies have issued positive EPS guidance for the fourth quarter. This number is well above the five-year average for the sector (16). If 29 is the final number for the quarter, it will mark the highest number of companies issuing positive EPS guidance for this sector since FactSet began tracking EPS guidance in 2006. Eleven of these 29 companies are in the Semiconductor & Semiconductor Equipment industry.

S&P 500 Sector Level Positive EPS Guidance

In the Industrials sector, nine companies have issued positive EPS guidance for the fourth quarter. This number is well above the five-year average for the sector (three). If nine is the final number for the quarter, it will also mark the highest number of companies issuing positive EPS guidance for this sector since FactSet began tracking EPS guidance in 2006.

The term “guidance” (or “preannouncement”) is defined as a projection or estimate for EPS provided by a company in advance of the company reporting actual results. Guidance is classified as negative if the estimate (or mid-point of a range estimates) provided by a company is lower than the mean EPS estimate the day before the guidance was issued. Guidance is classified as positive if the estimate (or mid-point of a range of estimates) provided by the company is higher than the mean EPS estimate the day before the guidance was issued.

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John Butters

Vice President, Senior Earnings Analyst, Investor Relations

Mr. John Butters is Vice President and Senior Earnings Analyst at FactSet. His weekly research report, “Earnings Insight,” provides analysis and commentary on trends in corporate earnings data for the S&P 500 including revisions to estimates, year-over-year growth, performance relative to expectations, and valuations. He is a widely used source for the media and has appeared on CNBC, Fox Business News, and the Business News Network. In addition, he has been cited by numerous print and online publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The New York Times, MarketWatch, and Yahoo! Finance. Mr. Butters has over 15 years of experience in the financial services industry. Prior to FactSet in January 2011, he worked for more than 10 years at Thomson Reuters (Thomson Financial), most recently as Director of U.S. Earnings Research (2007-2010).

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