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S&P 500 Is Reporting Third Highest Net Profit Margin Since 2008 for Q3


By John Butters  |  October 18, 2021

Given concerns in the market about rising inflation, what is the S&P 500 reporting for a net profit margin in the third quarter?

The blended (combines actual results for companies that have reported and estimated results for companies that have yet to report) net profit margin for the S&P 500 for Q3 2021 is 12.3%, which is above the year-ago net profit margin and above the five-year average net profit margin (10.9%). However, it is below the previous quarter’s record-high net profit margin of 13.1%. If 12.3% is the actual net profit margin for the quarter, it will mark the third highest net profit margin reported by the index since FactSet began tracking this metric in 2008, trailing only the previous two quarters.


On June 30, the estimated net profit margin for the third quarter was 12.0%. Thus, the net profit margin is slightly higher today relative to expectations at the start of the third quarter.

Sector Level Analysis

At the sector level, eight sectors are reporting (or are expected to report) a year-over-year increase in their net profit margins in Q3 2021 compared to Q3 2020, led by the Energy (8.7% vs. NA) and Materials (14.0% vs. 9.5%) sectors. A year-ago net profit margin has not been calculated for the Energy sector due to the earnings loss reported by the sector in Q3 2020. Eight sectors are reporting (or are expected to report) net profit margins in Q3 2021 that are above their five-year averages, led by the Materials (14.0% vs. 9.5%), Utilities (16.8% vs. 12.9%), and Energy (8.7% vs. 4.9%) sectors. However, only two sectors are expected to report a quarter-over-quarter increase in their net profit margins for Q3 2021 compared to Q2 2021: Energy (8.7% vs. 6.5%) and Utilities (16.8% vs. 15.0%).




Analysts also believe net profit margins for the S&P 500 will continue to be above 12.0% for the remainder of 2021 and the first half of 2022. As of today, the estimated net profit margins for Q4 2021, Q1 2022, and Q2 2022 are 12.1%, 12.5%, and 12.8%, respectively.

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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).