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Verizon, NextEra Beat on Q1 Earnings; Markets Down a Third Day

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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

For the third straight day, and after last week’s new all-time highs set in the Dow and S&P 500 indexes, stocks look to open in the red. Monday and Tuesday both closed in the red, as well — will this be the turning point for the week? If so, it’s not readily obvious where the catalysts lie: for the third straight day, we also have no major economic prints available for perusal.

In Zacks’ Exec VP Kevin Matras’ article this morning, what we’re seeing is mere profit-taking. For sure, we’re not seeing any panic hitting the market; the downward trends have been from double-digit to low-triple-digit daily drops. And, considering we’re still among the snowcaps of these indexes, historically, the selling of late has been pretty tame.

Q1 earnings season continues to roll along, however. In fact, today looks to be the busiest day yet… until tomorrow. For now, this may be the clearest look at where our economy has bounded back toward:

Verizon VZ posted modest beats on both earnings and sales numbers for Q1 ahead of today’s opening bell. Earnings of $1.31 per share beat the Zacks consensus by 2 cents, 5 cents higher than the year-ago earnings beat. Revenues of $32.9 billion grew 4% year over year, and nudged past the $32.4 billion analysts were looking for. Its Wireless segment grew 2.4% in the quarter, to $16.7 billion, with wireless churn better than expected to 178K from the 198K projected.

Still the #1 U.S. telecom company, Verizon has beaten earnings expectations in each quarter, save one, in the past 3 1/2 years. That said, the trailing 4-quarter average is a 3% beat, which speaks to disciplined accounting practices more than anything else. The stock carried a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) with a Value - Growth - Momentum grade of B into the earnings release; we see little reason to expect this to change from this vista.

NextEra Energy NEE, currently neck-and-neck with ExxonMobil XOM as the largest U.S. energy company — and biggest renewable energy generator in the world — reported a vastly mixed Q1 this morning. Earnings of 67 cents per share gained 14% year over year and beat the Zacks consensus by 7 cents, but quarterly revenues were woefully short of expectations: $3.73 billion, versus $4.71 billion analysts had predicted.

For current year earnings per share, the company gave a range of between $2.40-2.54, weighted to the low end of the current $2.50 per share projection. The stock, ahead of the earnings report, had a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell) and a Value - Growth - Momentum grade of D. These poor sales and forward earnings figures would tend to bear this out. Shares are down 2% in today’s pre-market, but still up 8.5% year to date.

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