Technology Sector Enjoying Strong Earnings Momentum

Jeff Buchbinder | Chief Equity Strategist

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Earnings season last week and this week is all about financials. The early reports were a bit messy, with earnings dragged down by special bank charges to replenish the FDIC deposit insurance fund following last year’s bank failures.  

LPL Research still thinks a respectable 5% increase in S&P 500 Index earnings per share overall is achievable given low analyst expectations. But one big determining factor in whether that upside materializes will be the “Magnificent Seven.” That is, the big seven tech companies, which sit atop the S&P 500 Index are expected to collectively grow earnings 46% in the fourth quarter, compared to a 7% decline expected for the rest of the S&P 500 Index (the “493”), as discussed in this week’s Weekly Market Commentary.

Where are the best earnings revisions heading into reporting season? The answer — technology. We rank 2024 earnings estimate revisions over the past three months in the chart below, where technology is a clear standout. The sector is expected to grow earnings by about 15% during the fourth quarter based on current analysts’ estimates, well above current estimates for the S&P 500 Index below 2%. 

Technology Sector Enjoying Strong Upward Revisions to Earnings Estimates 

Bar graph depicting 2024 S&P 500 EPS sector growth as described in the preceding paragraph.

Source: LPL Research, FactSet 01/16/24
Disclosures: All indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested in directly. 
Estimates may not materialize as predicted. 

Not only has technology experienced nicely positive estimate revisions in recent months, but sector expectations for earnings growth in 2024 are quite robust. In fact, analysts expect the technology sector to grow earnings 17% this year, topping the other 10 S&P 500 Index sectors and supported by several demand tailwinds, notably artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing. The increase in optimism heading into earnings season provides some evidence that these high expectations may be achievable, driven by some of the biggest technology companies in the market that will likely be the biggest earnings story of 2024. 

The Biggest Earnings Story of 2024: The Magnificent Seven 

Mega Cap Tech Earnings Still Growing Nicely

Bar graph depicting expected earnings growth in 2024 for the magnificent seven technology companies as described in the preceding paragraph.

Source: LPL Research, FactSet 01/16/24
The Magnificent Seven includes Alphabet (GOOG/L), Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Meta (META), Microsoft (MSFT), NVIDIA (NVDA), and Tesla (TSLA).
Disclosures: All indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested in directly.
Estimates may not materialize as predicted. 

LPL Research maintains a neutral to slightly positive outlook for the technology sector, with a positive bias, and favors growth style over value in its latest recommended tactical asset allocation. LPL Research maintains a positive outlook for the communication services sector, with its more attractive overall valuations. The sector offers substantial exposure to the “Mag Seven,” with Alphabet and Meta among its top holdings. 

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Jeff Buchbinder

Jeff Buchbinder, CFA, provides the top-down view of the stock market for LPL Financial Research. He has over 25 years of experience in equities.