This report updates the trailing-twelve-months (TTM) Economic Earnings for the S&P 500 and all sectors as of 5/16/24.

Economic earnings are rising for some sectors and falling in others, and the magnitude of change varies by a wide margin. Trailing TTM Economic Earnings in 1Q24 were lower than 4Q23 TTM levels for seven of eleven sectors.

This report is an abridged and free version of S&P 500 Economic Earnings: Update For 1Q24, one of our quarterly series on fundamental market and sector trends. The full reports are available to our Institutional members or can be purchased below.

The full version of this report analyzes the economic earnings[1] (which adjust for unusual items on both the income statements and balance sheets) and GAAP earnings for the S&P 500 and its sectors (last analysis is here).

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Economic Earnings provide a more accurate measure of the true underlying cash flows of businesses than GAAP earnings. Reports on the drivers of Economic Earnings are here.

This report leverages our cutting-edge Robo-Analyst technology to deliver proven-superior[2] fundamental research and support more cost-effective fulfillment of the fiduciary duty of care.

Economic Earnings Update For 1Q24

See Figure 1 in the full version of our report for the chart of Economic Earnings vs. GAAP earnings for the S&P 500 and each of its eleven sectors from December 2004 through 1Q24.

The S&P 500’s 1Q24 Economic Earnings continue to follow the trend we foresaw in our 1Q22 report S&P 500 Economic Earnings Set Records, but WACC Is a Drag. Indeed, one of the headwinds facing Economic Earnings is a rising WACC. Investors can protect themselves by paying closer attention to Economic Earnings, which account for the effects of changes to WACC.

Key Details on Select S&P 500 Sectors

The Technology sector saw the largest QoQ improvement in TTM Economic Earnings.

The Technology sector’s TTM Economic Earnings rose in 1Q24. On the flip side, the Utilities sector has the lowest TTM Economic Earnings of any sector and was one of seven sectors that destroyed shareholder value in 1Q24.

Below, we highlight the Technology sector, which saw the largest QoQ improvement in TTM Economic Earnings in 1Q24.

Sample Sector Analysis[3]: Technology

Figure 1 shows Economic Earnings for the Technology sector rose 3% QoQ in 1Q24, while GAAP earnings rose 5% over the same time.

Figure 1: Technology Economic Earnings Vs. GAAP: 2004 – 1Q24

Sources: New Constructs, LLC and company filings. 
Our Economic Earnings analysis is based on aggregated TTM data for the sector constituents in each measurement period.
The May 16, 2024 measurement period incorporates the financial data from calendar 1Q24 10-Qs, as this is the earliest date for which all the calendar 1Q24 10-Qs for the S&P 500 constituents were available.

This article was originally published on June 5, 2024.

Disclosure: David Trainer, Kyle Guske II, and Hakan Salt receive no compensation to write about any specific stock, style, or theme.

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Appendix: Calculation Methodology

We derive the economic earnings and GAAP Earnings metrics above by summing the Trailing Twelve Month individual S&P 500 constituent values for economic earnings and GAAP Earnings in each sector for each measurement period. We call this approach the “Aggregate” methodology.

The Aggregate methodology provides a straightforward look at the entire sector, regardless of market cap or index weighting and matches how S&P Global (SPGI) calculates metrics for the S&P 500.

[1] This report is based on the latest audited financial data available, which is the 1Q24 10-Q in most cases. Price data as of 5/16/24.

[2] Our research utilizes our more of reliable fundamental data, as proven in Core Earnings: New Data & Evidence, written by professors at Harvard Business School (HBS) & MIT Sloan and published in The Journal of Financial Economics.

[3] The full version of this report provides analysis for every sector like what we show for this sector.

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