Corporations Are Feeling The Economic Downturn

Corporate America is facing its sharpest drop in profits since the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Wall Street forecasts, as high inflation squeezes margins and fears of an impending recession hold back demand.

Companies on the S&P 500 index are expected to report a 6.8 percent decline in first-quarter earnings compared with the same period a year earlier, according to analyst estimates compiled by FactSet.

That would be the biggest fall since the more than 30 percent plunge in the second quarter of 2020, which came as the rapid spread of Covid-19 led to a widespread economic shutdown. Ahead of the first-quarter earnings season, which begins with a trio of big banks reporting results on Friday, sectors such as energy and consumer discretionary are expected to show strong year-over-year profit growth.

However, a combination of flagging consumer demand, tighter credit conditions, and a downswing in commodity prices have cut into earnings expectations across a broad spectrum of industries. “When you look at the cost of wages and the cost of capital I think margins are coming under a fair amount of pressure,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Capital. “Companies were enjoying nominal growth, they had some pricing power, but their volumes were either shrinking or just staying the same.”

Source: Financial Times