What to Expect from European Earnings Season

This could be the weakest quarter since 2020, Bank of America analysts predict, with various factors working against earnings growth 

Jocelyn Jovene 11 October, 2023 | 10:14AM
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digital map of Europe

In Europe, 10% of companies in the Stoxx Europe 600 index publish their quarterly results starting next week and half by the end of the month.

According to data compiled by Bank of America strategists, the market overall expects -15% year-on-year profit decline, after -11% during the second quarter of 2023.

“This constitutes the weakest quarter since the third quarter of 2020, with growth expected to remain negative in the fourth quarter, at -8%,” the bank’s strategists said in a note dated October 10.

The energy sector will have the greatest impact on the decline in profits (-13 percentage points in terms of contribution) while financial services will make the strongest positive contribution (+6 percentage points).

In a sluggish macroeconomic context in Europe, and in particular in Germany, Bank of America estimates that overall the results announced by European companies will do better than expectations in less than half of the cases, compared to a "success" rate of 54% on average (it was 51% in the second quarter of 2023).

This contraction in profits in Europe can be explained not only by a weaker macro backdrop, by geopolitical tensions around Ukraine, but also by a difficult basis of comparison.

Strong 2022 Comparisons

During the third quarter of 2022, European companies’ profits jumped by 27% year-on-year (and they grew by 15% during the fourth quarter).

To try to anticipate future profit developments in Europe, Bank of America tracks the new orders component of the PMI leading index.

The latest indicator, published on September 22, shows that these new orders have been in decline for fourconsecutive months and that the decline in September was the most pronounced since November 2020.

Over the whole of 2023, the consensus now expects a 1% contraction in corporate profits in Europe, while it was still targeting an increase of 1% in June.

For 2024, analysts now forecast that the earnings of European companies will grow by 7% (compared to +8% in April).

Here again, beyond the expected contributions of the different sectors (positive for banks, insurance or technology, but negative for energy, commodities or chemicals), the macro context and the "base" effect comparison work against company results.

In 2022, European company earnings increased by 22%, compared to average annual growth of 3.7% between 2007 and 2022.

All the Earnings As They Come In

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About Author

Jocelyn Jovene

Jocelyn Jovene  is Senior Financial Analyst and Senior Editor for Morningstar France.

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