Q2'23 Inside The Buy-Side® Earnings Primer®

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The Big So What™

August 18, 2023

Closing the Quarter Q2’23

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With Q2 2023 earnings season in the books, we “Close the Quarter” with some notable themes:

Earnings beats are holding less weight in the current environment. Despite 79% of the S&P 500 reporting positive EPS surprises, above both the 1-year (73%) and 5-year averages (77%), stock price reactions for those surpassing analyst estimates have been negative -0.5%, on average.

Smaller-cap companies received more attention recently from investors, but outperformance in the stock market still largely revolves around the biggest names YTD. Market breadth did improve during July, when the Russell 2000 outperformed the S&P 500 by 3% on renewed confidence that a hard economic landing might be averted. However, August has reversed that outperformance to the point where the S&P 500 and Russell 2000 indices are now neck-in-neck since the beginning of July.

Companies with greater international exposure have produced sub-par results when compared to their domestically focused counterparts. In particular, those with more China exposure have fundamentally performed worse than the rest of the group, with price reactions serving as a poignant indicator as of late.

Guidance Trends

  • Revenue: 46% raised, 32% maintained, 22% lowered
  • EPS: 47% raised, 30% maintained, 23% lowered

Consensus Trends

  • Revenue: 38% increase, 31% no change, 31% decrease
  • EPS: 50% increase, 21% no change, 29% decrease

Capital Allocation

To garner insights into capital spending trends, we analyzed the average sector cash allocations within the S&P 500:

  • Uses of Cash: 28% capex, 19% dividends, 17% buybacks, 17% dry powder, 15% debt reduction, 5% M&A
  • Buybacks and M&A experienced the largest sequential and annual declines — perhaps signaling a more opportunistic approach to deployment. Capex incrementally reversed the 15% slump observed in Q1, also implying a shift in corporate priorities near-term. Further, dry powder increased both sequentially and on a YoY basis, indicating executives may be holding back their deployable cash given nearer-term uncertainty observed across Q2 transcripts.

Corbin Advisors is a strategic consultancy accelerating value realization globally. We engage deeply with our clients to assess, architect, activate, and accelerate value realization, delivering research-based insights and execution excellence through a cultivated and caring team of experts with deep sector and situational experience, a best practice approach, and an outperformance mindset.

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