“Lower Guidance” A Theme For Tech Earnings This Afternoon

Most of the major U.S. stock indexes clawed their way back into the green after a mid-day journey into the red. The Standard & Poor’s 500, for example, closed the day up 0.22% (at 2638) from the Tuesday close. But that was still below the 2641 the index began trading at this morning. U.S. stocks didn’t build on the morning’s strength, which had in turn been built on earnings beats from IBM (IBM), United Technologies (UTX), and Procter & Gamble (PG).

After the close today, we had earnings reports from important (if not market moving) technology companies Texas Instruments (TXN), Citrix (CTXS), and F5 Networks (FFIV). All three sang a similar song: Earnings for the quarter beat Wall Street estimates and revenue was in line with forecasts. But the next quarter wasn’t going to be as good as management had previously indicated. Cutting guidance for the first quarter of 2019 was the order of the day.

For example, Texas Instruments reported December quarter earnings of $1.27 a share, 3 cents a share above Wall Street estimates. Revenue dropped 0.9% year over year to $3.72 billion. Wall Street analysts were expecting $3.75 billion.

But the big news was the company’s cut to guidance for the first quarter of 2019. For the quarter Texas Instruments said that it now expects earnings of $1.03 to $1.21 a share against the Wall Street consensus of $1.21. Revenue for the quarter would be in the range of $3.34 billion to $3.62 billion versus the Wall Street consensus of $3.61 billion.

The reaction in after-hours trading to lowered guidance depended on how much of the bad news was already anticipated by traders and investors. Texas Instruments, in a chip sector where bad news has been the only news recently, rose 60 cents a share in after-hours trading after being down $1.17 a share in the regular session. Citrix shares, on the other hand, fell a big 6.08% in after hours trading.

I doubt that the market as a whole will make too much of this trend to lower guidance tomorrow–these after all aren’t the big market-moving stocks in the technology sector. But lower guidance from these companies will further fray nerves scraped raw by lower guidance from Johnson & Johnson yesterday.