The biggest earnings week is still a month away: Morning Brief

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This week, companies collectively worth nearly $17 trillion will report quarterly results. Next week, almost $13 trillion in market cap will follow.

But the breadth and depth of corporate earnings set to be released don’t make this week or next the biggest week for first quarter earnings season.

That crown will be worn in a month’s time when Nvidia (NVDA) reports earnings on May 22.

By the time the Kentucky Derby gets underway on May 4, 341 companies in the S&P 500 will have told investors how their first three months of 2024 went, data from Bespoke Investment Group showed.

Combine this with PCE inflation data this Friday, next Wednesday’s Fed meeting, and the April jobs report on May 3, and just about every piece of key data for markets will get a moment in the spotlight over the next two weeks.

But part of what makes Nvidia’s report next month more important than this cluster is that it stands alone on the calendar. Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL), Microsoft (MSFT), and Meta (META), for instance, all report results this week.

Should these reads on the growth of AI within their product lineups or shifts in the digital advertising market conflict with one another, investors can choose their own way in or out of the story.

The next two weeks will see most of the market's biggest companies report earnings. Results from Nvidia in May will be even more important for investors. (Source: Bespoke Investment Group)

The next two weeks will see most of the market’s biggest companies report earnings. Results from Nvidia in May will be even more important for investors. (Source: Bespoke Investment Group)

Nvidia and the AI trade have also shown signs of some fragility after powering markets higher and papering over investor fears around rising rates for much of this year.

Last week, investors got a look at just how sensitive the AI trade has become.

ASML (ASML), which makes the technology that allows chip companies to make better, more advanced chips, reported bookings on Wednesday that disappointed. Shares fell 8%.

TSMC (TSM) the next day reported results that left investors wanting, with Bloomberg noting the company cut expectations for overall chip growth this year and said “macroeconomic and geopolitical uncertainty” could weigh on end-market demand. Its stock lost 5%.

On Friday, news from Super Micro Computer (SMCI) that the company would report results next week but would not pre-announce performance for investors was cited by analysts as enough to trigger a 19% drop in the stock.

In the background of these negative surprises from the chip space, market leaders like AMD (AMD), Micron (MU), and, of course, Nvidia have seen their stock prices come under pressure.

Ahead of this earnings period, expectations were high.

And as Yahoo Finance’s Josh Schafer wrote Monday, these forecasts have created early challenges for companies that aren’t being rewarded for beating estimates and are being judged harshly for falling short.

Moreover, all earnings periods bring with them an inherent instability. Everyone knows when a company will release a material update on its business, and the votes come in up or down.

And when we combine a calendar-provided spotlight with Nvidia’s centrality to the AI narrative underpinning the market’s rally, it seems that the busiest weeks of earnings season might not, after all, be the most important.

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