Fourth quarter earnings season is upon us.
In the week ahead, earnings from major U.S. banks for the final quarter of the year will begin rolling in with key reports also expected from across industries.
But if the news we’ve already heard from some big U.S. corporates about the final months of 2018 and the road ahead for the global economy are any indication, the weeks ahead are not going to be encouraging.
In late 2018, FedEx (FDX) gave investors the first major indication of troubles about the global economy, with company management saying its international business had “weakened significantly since we last talked with you during our earnings call in September.” Adding that, “China’s economy has weakened due in part to trade disputes.” FedEx cut its outlook for 2019 as a result.
On January 2, Apple (AAPL) shocked markets when it said sales for its holiday quarter would sharply miss expectations. CEO Tim Cook mentioned China 11 times in a letter to investors published, writing in part, “While we anticipated some challenges in key emerging markets, we did not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration, particularly in Greater China.”
The following day, the Dow dropped 660 points and the Nasdaq fell 3%.
A trade-in for iPhone XR promotion board is displayed as an Apple employee waits for customer at its retail store in Beijing, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. Apple Inc.’s $1,000 iPhone is a tough sell to Chinese consumers who are jittery over an economic slump and a trade war with Washington. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)More
Last week, the S&P 500 finished higher in four out of five sessions, giving investors perhaps some sense of reprieve after the brutal trading that capped 2018. During the week, however, corporate America offered investors a message less in-line with how the market behaved and more in-line with what Apple said the prior week.