How Much Are Earnings Really Affecting Stock ETFs? | ETF Trends

This week has been key for corporate earnings, with nearly 170 S&P 500 companies reporting, including tech behemoths like Apple, Amazon and Alphabet set to release reports this Thursday.

What’s more, economic data like the Q3 GDP is also set to be released on Thursday, which could illustrate the extent to which the economy has recovered from the second-quarter shutdowns.

All this movement likely has investors scrutinizing tech ETFs like the iShares Russell 1000 Growth ETF (IWF) and the ProShares Ultra QQQ (QLD) for their next directional move.

The ‘Market-Moving’ Events

Jonathan Golub, chief U.S. equity strategist at Credit Suisse, discussed the key elements to pay attention to for each market-moving event.

“If you’re looking at it from an earnings growth perspective, the earnings are down about 18%-20% versus where they were a year ago. However, if you look at it the way that investors look at it, which is how are the results coming in compared to what your expectations were, it’s just fantastic,” Golub told CNBC’s “Trading Nation” on Monday.

Golub predicted that companies have beaten expectations by approximately 17%, which follows a second quarter that saw projections beaten by 23%. This is quite dramatic considering that earnings beats usually come in at around 3% to 4%.

But even more surprising, according to Golub, is that investors are not reacting to the news with much fervor.

“What’s a bit surprising, though, is the market is just not responding to these beats. So typically, you get a big stock price move if a company tops expectations, and you’re not getting that happening this quarter and you didn’t have it happen last quarter either,” Golub said.

The strategist believes that the lackluster market reaction could be because investors are already looking ahead to the next quarter, where forecasts are uncertain.

“It’s a bit of an unfair read because [of]the way the GDP is calculated,” he said. “When you calculate GDP, it’s actually measured on this quarter versus the quarter before it. … You are measuring a closed economy versus one that is opened up, and the numbers are going to be huge … but that’s not really what the story is which is how long will it take us to get back to normal in industrial activity and the like?”

Meanwhile, analysts surveyed by FactSet project third-quarter growth of 31%, following a second-quarter GDP where GDP plummeted by a record 32.9%.

A coming election, stalled stimulus progression, and a surging number coronavirus of cases could also be clouding investor sentiment, according to Golub.

“If we had a backstop for this, if we had a fiscal agreement to give people more unemployment benefits and to bail out small businesses, we could withstand a little bit of a shutdown here because we may be facing that. But right now, that does not seem to be on the horizon,” said Golub.

So how should stock ETF investors in ETFs like the SPY position themselves for the remainder of the year?

“We have a 3,200 price target and, you know, it looked like that was way too low as markets were racing ahead, but right now a market that’s down you know 5% or 6% between now and the end of the year doesn’t seem so unlikely, even if we’re reasonably optimistic longer term,” said Golub.

The S&P 500 broke just above 3,400 on Tuesday, although it is still struggling, so ultimately only time will tell.

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