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Q1 earnings season will be 'all about the guidance,' says Citigroup's Levkovich

Daily Ticker

You might call it the earnings season of our discontent. The abnormally long and cold winter throughout the U.S. is expected to stunt earnings for the first quarter. Alcoa (AA) unofficially kicks off Q1 earnings season when it reports after Tuesday's close.

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Tobias Levkovich, Citigroup's chief U.S. equity strategist, tells The Daily Ticker that he reduced his earnings forecast for the S&P 500 by 60 cents to $27.75 because of the weather and weaker than expected emerging markets.

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Levkovich is forecasting a 3.8% rise in first quarter earnings vs. a year ago, which is well above the 1.2% Wall Street consensus forecasts compiled by FactSet Research. He expects companies will recoup about half the shortfall in first-quarter earnings sometime in the second quarter and the rest during the second half as demand grows.

As usual, the recovery could be quicker if companies surprise on their guidance for future profits. "It's all about the guidance," says Levkovich. But he doesn't expect companies "will be able to really give astounding outlooks for the next nine months," and that will probably make investors "a bit wary," he says in the video above.

Related: Are social media stocks in a bear market?

Investors already seem wary about the stock market. The major indexes are basically flat for the year but the downward momentum has been gathering speed over the past week, especially in so-called momentum stocks like Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR) and Tesla (TSLA). The Nasdaq (^IXIC) has lost 3.5% and its iShares biotech index (IBB) has slumped 5.5% in the past week.

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