This week, at least 21.2% of the Russell 1000 Financial Services Index delivers second-quarter earnings reports. Needless to say, with S&P 500 profits forecast to decline for the first time since 2012, earnings updates from the index’s second-largest sector weight, could go a long way toward delivering some positive surprises this earnings season.
Financials are projected to deliver the best earnings growth in the S&P 500 this year and the sector is one of just three forecast to show double-digit profit growth. Investors are preparing for earnings ebullience from financials as inflows to the sector’s exchange traded funds are continuing.
The Financial Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLF), the largest financial services ETF, saw its biggest seven-day inflow for the period ending July 8 since 2008, according to Reuters. Since the tart of July, investors have had $2.11 billion to XLF.
Financial services ETFs hauled in a combined $2 billion in new assets last month after XLF added $545 million in new assets in May, making the fund one of the top-asset gathering sector ETFs in two consecutive months. Inflows to financial services ETFs, including XLF, arrived after professional investors shunned the sector in the first quarter. [Pros Ditched Bank ETFs too Soon]
XLF steps into the earnings confessional in significant fashion this week with reports from J.P. Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC), Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) and Citigroup (NYSE: C), among others. That quartet combines for almost 28% of XLF’s weight.
Second-quarter earnings for the financials sector are estimated to grow 14.9 percent, the best among the ten S&P sectors, according to Thomson Reuters data. As Reuters also notes, bullish options activity on XLF is on the rise, but there are other signs investors are betting on big moves for the financial services sector this earnings season.
For example, the Direxion Daily Financial Bull 3X Shares (NYSEArca: FAS) has added over $105 million in new assets this month. FAS attempts to deliver three times the daily performance of the Russell 1000 Financial Services Index.