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The 10 Most Important Earnings in the Week Ahead

Jon C. Ogg

Earnings season is in full swing and this coming week will bring many key earnings reports. This will also be the last week of major on-calendar earnings for the third quarter, even if important earnings will still be coming out in the next two weeks or three weeks.

24/7 Wall St. has decided to publish previews for what it feels are the ten most important earnings reports on the calendar for the week ahead. These are possible market movers on their own right, but they are definitely all sector movers.

Earnings per shares (EPS) and revenue estimates have been provided by Thomson Reuters and we have added color on each if applicable. As a reminder, the earnings estimates can easily change before the reports. It is also possible that even the earnings date itself can change.

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Apple Inc. (AAPL) is set to report earnings on Monday after the closing bell. You will want to consider that tech giants have been doing well, even at Microsoft. You will also want to consider that this is an expected earnings drop down to $7.93 EPS from $8.67 EPS a year ago. Revenue is expected to be $36.84 billion, which will represent 2.4% sales growth from a year ago. The stock is back up to $525 now and that is the highest point since January of 2013. The company showed last quarter that gross margin was 36.9% versus 42.8% a year ago and also that international sales represented 57% of all sales. Apple gave guidance for this quarter of 36% to 37% margins on sales of $34 billion to $37 billion. Apple's cash and cash equivalents came to $146 billion at the end of the last quarter. Carl Icahn wants an unbelievable $150 billion buyback conducted now, a move which Tim Cook is likely to address and likely to temper simultaneously.

Merck & Co. (MRK) is set to report on Monday and estimates are $0.88 EPS, down from $0.95 EPS a year ago. Revenue is expected to be down 3% to $11.12 billion. At $46.54, the 52-week range for this DJIA stock is $40.02 to $50.16 and the consensus analyst price target is $51.05.

Pfizer Inc. (PFE) reports on Tuesday and earnings are expected to be $0.56 EPS versus $0.53 EPS a year ago. Revenue is expected to be down about 9% to $12.7 billion. Shares are at $30.61 against a 52-week range of $23.55 to $31.15. The consensus analyst price target for this DJIA Big Pharma giant is $31.91.

Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) reports on Wednesday and earnings are expected to be $0.61 EPS versus last year's third quarter report of $0.46 EPS. Revenue is expected to be down 1.8% to $16.25 billion. Comcast closed at $48.17 and we would point out that the high for the year and all-time was just put in at $48.19.

Starbucks Corp. (SBUX) reports earnings on Wednesday afternoon. The new Teavana initiative has yet to kick in significantly as the first store was just launched. Earnings estimates are $0.60 EPS and $3.81 billion in revenue, representing earnings growth of 30% and sales growth of 13%. At $79.96 Starbucks is only about $1 shy of an all-time high and its value is now $60 billion.

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American International Group (AIG) reports on Thursday and estimates are $ EPS and $ billion in sales. While this is no longer a DJIA stock and while it is no longer beholden to the US government, AIG remains very systemically important. The insurance giant is expected to have earnings of $0.94 EPS versus $1.00 EPS a year ago. Revenue is expected to be down 1.4% to $8.63 billion. AIG's share price of $51.85 is within $1.50 of a pre-meltdown high and the company's market cap is $76.5 billion.

ConocoPhillips (COP) is set to report earnings on Thursday morning and estimates are $1.44 EPS. That would be flat versus a year ago. Revenue estimates are $13.04 billion, although most Wall Street analysts do not make revenue projections based upon this being highly dependent upon the price of oil and other upstream and downstream factors. The $74.10 price hit on Friday is a new high.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) also reports on Thursday morning. Estimates are $1.78 EPS versus $2.09 EPS a year ago. Revenue is expected to be $107.4 billion, although again analysts generally omit revenue estimates. Exxon Mobil shares have been underperforming compared to other oil giants. At $87.97, its 52-week trading range is $84.70 to $95.49. It has yet to unlock value with spin-offs or divestitures of entire units even if it routinely buys and sells oil fields. This DJIA component's market cap is a whopping $387 billion.

MasterCard Inc. (MA) reports on Thursday and estimates are $6.94 EPS versus $6.17 EPS a year ago. Revenue is expected to be up over 11% at $2.13 billion. At$723.78, this just hit a new all-time high of $732.45. Rival Visa just hit a new high as well, and MasterCard's extremely high share price is keeping its trading volume exceptionally low considering its $87 billion market cap. Visa's market cap is now about $131 billion for a comparison. For a comparison, Visa generated about 40% higher sales than MasterCard in 2012 yet its market cap is just over 50% higher than MasterCard. Maybe MasterCard needs to consider a stock split.

Chevron Corp. (CVX) is due to report on Friday morning and will be the last of the major oil giants to report earnings. The consensus earnings estimate is $2.73 EPS versus $2.57 EPS a year ago. The oil giant is a DJIA component and its market cap is about $233 billion. Chevron recently closed at $120.59 against a 52-week range of $100.66 to $127.83.

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