SP 500 Earnings: FedEx This Week – A Look into a Major Transport

FedEx (FDX) reports their fiscal Q1 ’20 after the closing bell on Tuesday, September 17th. 2019.

The major Transport component gives investors a look into a number of major geographies, not the least of which is Europe and South East Asia China, via FedEx Express and also a look into the US consumer via FedEx Ground.

FedEx has had a number of headwinds the last 18 months, which has brought the stock down from $274 in January ’18 to its close Friday, September 13th,2019 at $174.

When FedEx reported their fiscal Q4 ’19 in June ’19, they guided conservatively (as they usually do) for 2020 given the tariff issues, what’s happened with China growth, European growth, etc. so the stock has been consolidating in this trading range between the low $150’s and $200 (April ’19 high) since the December ’18 low at $150.94. On the June ’19 call, FedEx guided to lower Express and Ground margins and said only Freight would see margin expansion in fiscal 2020.

The important thing is the stock has NOT made a new low with the lower 2020 guidance and conservative estimates around Express and Ground.

(The more in-depth earnings previews done for client positions are posted over at Seeking Alpha, so look for a full earnings preview on FedEx late Sunday night, early Monday morning. The drone attacks on Saudi Arabia crude oil facilities is another fly in the ointment given FedEx’s P/L delta to crude oil prices and fuel costs, so that could be a new and interesting development covered on the conference call Tuesday night.)

Companies that report between now and the end of September, early October, typically have an August 31 quarter-end date, which gives readers an extra two month look into US economic activity, from the June ’19 quarter end with the 2nd quarter earnings reports. This perspective matters.

SP 500 earnings data (by the numbers): 

  • Fwd 4-qtr est: $171.38 vs $171.55 from last week
  • TTM est: $164.44 vs last week’s $164.44
  • Fwd PE: 17.5x
  • TTM PE: 18.0x
  • Fwd PEG: 13x
  • TTM PEG: 4x
  • SP 500 earnings yield: 5.70% vs last week’s 5.76%
  • Y/Y growth fwd est: 1.35% vs 1.45% last week
  • Y/Y growth TTM est: 4.22% vs 4.32% last week
  •  Fwd: forward 4 quarter
  • TTM: trailing 4 quarter

(Source for forward estimate: IBES by Refinitiv, all the other data is this blog’s work)

Summary / Conclusion:  Unless we start seeing major pre-announcements by larger US SP 500 components, the pattern for the last two weeks of the quarter should be the same, as revisions dwindle and analysts await the 3rd quarter financial results starting around October 10, 2019.

The data being shown readers is being expanded to show more valuation data and earnings info, but it might be regrouped into “forward” and then “trailing” data so readers can see both data sets.

There has been a narrowing of the “forward” SP 500 earnings growth rate, comparing the forward 4-quarter estimate today, versus 52 weeks ago, which means analysts haven’t gotten aggressive regarding 2020 yet, although that could change with the 4th quarter since “comp’s” get easier vs Q4 ’18 earnings growth, which was the first quarter that the SP 500 earnings growth started to slow versus the first three quarters of 2018.

The SP 500 earnings yield of 5.7% still indicates that we have a “reasonably-valued” SP 500, with any move above 6% on the earnings yield triggering a rally. The SP 500 earnings yield peaked at 7.02% on December 21, 2018. No doubt this blog will get the typical comments about the SP 500 PE ratio, etc. and valuation, but read below before commenting.

Here is what very few have noticed so far about 2018 and 2019:

  • 2018: The SP 500 grew EPS in 2018 roughly 23% and the index returned -4.5%
  • 2019 (so far): SP 500 EPS is expected to grow 2%, and the index is up roughly 18% – 20% YTD.

Average them together and SP 500 EPS growth should be roughly 12% – 13% and the benchmark has returned  7% – 8%

If we remove the TCJA impact from 2018 SP 500 earnings, SP 500 grew 14% last year (organically, and per Factset), the average earnings growth the last two years is 8% and the benchmark’s average return is still 7% – 8%.

Unfortunately, we can play and massage these numbers all day, but the point is, looking at the last 2 calendar years together. it’s just an “average” two years.

Thanks for reading. More to come on Sunday.

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