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Where Are Analysts Most Optimistic on Ratings for S&P 500 Companies for Q3?

Companies and Earnings

By John Butters  |  September 28, 2018

With the end of the third quarter today, where are analysts most optimistic and pessimistic in terms of their ratings on stocks in the S&P 500? How have their views changed during the quarter?

Overall, there are 10,929 ratings on stocks in the S&P 500. Of these 10,929 ratings, 52.6% are Buy ratings, 41.7% are Hold ratings, and 5.7% are Sell ratings.

Since June 30, the total number of ratings on S&P 500 companies has increased by 0.3% (to 10,929 from 10,902). The number of Buy ratings has decreased by 1.1% (to 5747 from 5809). The number of Hold ratings has increased by 0.9% (to 4554 from 4514). The number of Sell ratings has increased by 8.7% (to 628 from 578).

Sector-Level Breakdown

At the sector level, analysts are most optimistic on the Energy (59%), Health Care (58%), and Materials (58%) sectors, as these sectors have the highest percentages of Buy ratings.

On the other hand, analysts are most pessimistic about the Consumer Staples (42%), Utilities (44%), and Real Estate (44%) sectors, as these sectors have the lowest percentages of Buy ratings. The Consumer Staples sector also has the highest percentage of Sell ratings (10%).

In the newly formed Communication Services sector, 56% of the ratings on companies in this sector are Buy ratings, which is the fifth highest percentage in the index. Within this sector, Alphabet (GOOGL & GOOG) has the highest percentage of Buy ratings at 91%. However, 7% of the ratings on companies in this sector are Sell ratings, which is the third highest percentage in the index. Within the sector, News Corp. (NWS) has the highest percentage of Sell ratings at 50%.

SP500 Percentage of Buy Hold and Sell Ratings

Overall for the S&P 500, the ten stocks with the highest percentages of Buy ratings and the highest percentages of Sell ratings are listed below.

Highest Buy Ratings % in S&P 500: Top 10 (Source: FactSet)

Company

Buy

Hold

Sell

Total

Amazon.com, Inc.

96%

4%

0%

100%

UnitedHealth Group Incorporated

92%

4%

4%

100%

Alphabet Inc. Class A

91%

9%

0%

100%

Alphabet Inc. Class C

91%

9%

0%

100%

salesforce.com, inc.

90%

10%

0%

100%

Mastercard Incorporated Class A

90%

8%

3%

100%

Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

90%

10%

0%

100%

Visa Inc. Class A

90%

8%

3%

100%

Delta Air Lines, Inc.

89%

11%

0%

100%

Equinix, Inc.

89%

11%

0%

100%

Highest Sell Ratings % in S&P 500: Top 10 (Source: FactSet)

Company

Buy

Hold

Sell

Total

Campbell Soup Company

17%

33%

50%

100%

VeriSign, Inc.

0%

50%

50%

100%

News Corporation Class B

0%

50%

50%

100%

Torchmark Corporation

9%

45%

45%

100%

Consolidated Edison, Inc.

6%

50%

44%

100%

Public Storage

6%

53%

41%

100%

Southern Company

19%

43%

38%

100%

Varian Medical Systems, Inc.

27%

36%

36%

100%

Franklin Resources, Inc.

0%

67%

33%

100%

Apache Corporation

25%

43%

32%

100%

Download the latest Earnings Insight

John Butters

Senior Earnings Analyst

John’s 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, Financial Times, The New York Times, MarketWatch, and Yahoo! Finance.

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