Earnings season (for the third quarter for most companies) starts on October 13, two Wednesdays from today, when big banks such as JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Bank of America (BAC) and Wells Fargo (WFC) report their results for the period that ends on September 30.
We’ve already seen an unusually high number of warnings about the quarter’s results from companies that have suffered delays in their supply chain or rising costs or unpredictable demand.
My worry is that we’ll see the number of warnings increase as we get closer to actual reports. And that companies that haven’t warned will report dips in sales and earnings from these same causes.
That wouldn’t be good news for a market that continues to trade near all-time highs on optimistic projections for sales and revenue growth in the remainder of 2021 and into 2022, and that increasing nervous at the same time because of news of slower economic growth fro China and speculation that the Federal Reserve will begin to reduce its $120 billion in Treasury and mortgage-backed asset purchases as early as November.
In this environment yesterday’s (September 28) warning from Micron Technology, the largest U.S. maker of memory chips, feels like a sickly canary reporting from a coal mine.
The company said that sales in the quarter ending in November will be just $7.65 billion. That’s significantly lower than the $8.57 billion expected by Wall Street analysts Earnings (mins certain “one-time” items) will be $2 to $2.10 a share, the company projected. Wall Street was looking for $2.56 a share.
The stock closed down 2.00% today. On the news analysts cut their target price for Micron shares. Barclays, for example, cut its target price to $87 from $110. The stock was tad at $71.61 at 3:20 New York time. (Shares were at $95.59 on April 12, 2021.)
I’d be less worried about this news if it was due to a problem at Micro Technology. But it’s not.
The company says it is seeing a slowdown in orders from PC makers because those PC companies are struggling to get components to build all the laptops and desktop that have been ordered from them.
This news also raises questions about the results reported by the company last quarter. In the period that ended on September 2 Micron posted revenue of $8.27 billion, up 36% from a year earlier. In the light of yesterdays announcement some analysts are wondering how much of that surge in orders was fueled by panic buying by customers looking to build inventory ahead of supply chain delays due to the Pandemic.
At the close the Standard & Poor;’s 500 was higher by 0.16% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average had gained 0.26%. The NASDAQ Composite had fallen 0.24% and the NASDAQ 100 was up 0.68%. The small cap Russell 2000 had slipped 0.18%.
The CBOE S&P 500 Volatility Index (VIX) was down 2.15% to 22.75.