Despite Reports to the Contrary, the Consumer Is Alive and Well


Earnings season is quickly winding down, and despite the wild stock market swings in recent weeks, corporate America has provided a steady stream of strong earnings to counter the doom-and-gloom headlines.

According to Capital IQ Consensus Estimates, SP 500 earnings per share during the second quarter have grown 19.1% year-over-year, with 458 companies of the index reporting. Nearly 70% of those companies have beaten estimates: Leading the way is information technology and, surprisingly, consumer discretionary.

Consumer Discretionary Comes On Strong

During last week’s earnings roundup, the focus was squarely on retailers, and they didn’t disappoint.

A diverse group of companies beat analyst estimates, illustrating that the consumer is indeed alive and well despite what you may have heard over the last two weeks.

Wal-Mart’s (WMT) earnings per share jumped 15% from last year to $1.12, beating the Capital IQ consensus estimate of $1.08. Home improvement expert Home Depot (HD), teen retailer Abercrombie Fitch (ANF), and PC maker Dell (DELL) also topped estimates.

This continues a trend of strong earnings from consumer discretionary and consumer staples companies this earnings season.

Source: Capital IQ Consensus Estimates, a division of Standard Poor’s.

What to Watch for This Week

Medtronic (MDT) will give us a peek into the health of medical devices when it reports earnings this week. Capital IQ is expecting earnings of $0.79 per share, down slightly from the $0.80 in EPS the company reported last year.

We also get another look at how the top and bottom ends of the consumer market are faring when discounter Big Lots (BIG) and premium jeweler Tiffany Co. (TIF) report. Capital IQ consensus estimates see earnings of $0.44 and $0.69 per share, respectively, for the two companies.

Be sure to check in for our take on these earnings reports as they’re released this week and we wind down a wild earnings season.

Motley Fool contributor Travis Hoium does not have a position in any company mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Medtronic and Wal-Mart Stores. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Home Depot, Dell, and Wal-Mart Stores, as well as creating a diagonal call position in Wal-Mart Stores.

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