Amazon (AMZN) was one of the primary beneficiaries of the pandemic as consumers were forced to engage in commerce digitally and corporations became increasingly willing to migrate to the cloud. In the first year or so after the March 2020 COVID Crash, AMZN shares soared from $2,000 up to $3,700. Since peaking in mid-2021, however, it has been a different story. Since AMZN reported earnings last night, shares have fallen another 15%. This leaves AMZN up just 13.5% from the level it was trading at right before the pandemic began on 2/19/20.
Although the stock is now barely higher versus pre-COVID levels, revenues continue to climb. Relative to pre-pandemic levels, trailing 12-month revenues have increased by 70.3% (CAGR of 27.2%). As implied, the price to sales multiple has compressed considerably relative to pre-pandemic levels. At the highs, AMZN was trading 3.8 times sales. The highest P/S multiple for the stock since the start of 2020 occurred in September of 2020, when the multiple hit 5.5. As it currently stands, the price to sales multiple is at new lows relative to the start of 2020 at just 2.7.
While AMZN revenues are up 70% from pre-COVID levels, margins have compressed considerably. In Q1 2020, AMZN posted operating margins of 9.5%. In Q1 2022, AMZN reported operating margins of 3.2%. These results can be attributed to inflationary pressures, labor challenges, supply chain constraints and foreign exchange headwinds. As you can see in the chart below, margin compression has hampered EPS, resulting in a decline in trailing 12-month EPS over the last three quarters. Relative to pre-pandemic levels, EPS have risen by 52.5% (CAGR: 21.1%), but they’ve declined by 38.8% over the last three quarters. Click here to become a Bespoke Institutional subscriber and gain access to our Conference Call Recaps.
As shown in the snapshot of our Earnings Explorer below, the next two weeks will be the busiest parts of earnings season before things quiet down headed into May. While there will be many more from names not in the index, by next Friday, there will be a total of 917 S&P 1500 companies reporting results with next Thursday the single busiest single day as 184 companies report.
It’s not only a busy week of earnings in terms of the number of companies reporting, but also the size of those companies. In today’s Chart of the Day, we highlighted how this week will see some of the largest companies in the world releasing results all in the same week for just the eighth time on record. As shown below, even though next week will have a higher number of companies reporting, the combined market caps of the companies releasing quarterly results this week far outsize next week. Of course, that is largely thanks to mega-caps. For example, tomorrow there will be over $4 trillion in market cap reporting between three names alone: Visa (V), Alphabet (GOOG), and Microsoft (MSFT). Wednesday will see the half-trillion dollar Meta Platforms (FB) report followed by the biggest day of earnings by market cap on Thursday, totaling nearly $8 trillion. Again, two names alone are a huge share: Amazon (AMZN) and Apple (AAPL). Click here to view Bespoke’s premium membership options.
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Early Thursday morning, investors were feeling pretty good about the trading week. At that point, the S&P 500 was up 1% on the day and about 2.7% week-to-date, and the index had actually just pushed back above its 200-day moving average.
There was nothing we could identify in the news that caused the S&P to peak around 10 AM ET, but from that point through the closing bell on Friday, the index fell 5.3% in basically as straight of a line lower that you can draw.
Fed Chair Powell did, however, make comments in a speech at the IMF mid-day Thursday where he confirmed that a 50 basis point hike was “on the table” for the May meeting. Markets have been pricing high odds for 50 bps hikes for some time now, but Powell’s comments basically cemented them (for now).
The Powell Fed is known for its jawboning and transparency when it comes to the path for rates. The chart below of equities and fixed income in 2022 tells you what these two asset classes currently think of that jawboning:
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US Treasury yields have continued to move higher with mortgage rates rising in tow (we explained some key distinguishing characteristics of mortgages versus Treasuries in last night’s Closer). Bankrate.com’s national average for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage has now eclipsed 5.25% in the past week which is an over 2 percentage point increase year over year. Since the start of this series on mortgage rates going back to the late 1990s, that is by far the largest year-over-year increase on record.
Higher rates mean less attractive affordability so purchase applications have continued to fall per the latest Mortgage Bankers Association data. Seasonally adjusted purchase applications dropped 3% this week and are hovering just above the February lows.
The spring is often the hottest time of the year for housing activity. As shown below, the few weeks surrounding the current one have often marked the annual high (blue dots in chart below) in non-seasonally adjusted purchase applications over the past decade. This year that might not be the case. Activity has been running below that of the prior year and has plateaued more recently as mortgage rates have taken off. At the moment, this year’s high was set a little over a month ago in the second week of March. While a new high for the year is still within tangible reach from current levels—meaning upcoming weeks could still very well experience an uptick to a new high—this year has the potential to see a much earlier than usual high in mortgage purchases.
Refinance applications meanwhile are far weaker with unrelenting declines recently. This week marked the sixth week over week decline in a row leaving the MBA’s refinance index at the lowest level since February 2019. Click here to learn more about Bespoke’s premium stock market research service.
An earnings triple play is when a company beats analyst earnings estimates, beats analyst sales estimates, and also raises guidance. We consider these the gold standard for earnings as these type of results show fundamental strength and are often met with higher share prices. Using data from our Earnings Explorer database, the pandemic years have seen an explosion of triple plays as analyst estimates were too pessimistic/companies rebounded more solidly than expected. As shown below, at the highs last fall, a record of more than 18% of companies reporting earnings (on a rolling 3 month basis) reported a triple play. Over the past several months, though, that reading has pulled back considerably and today is only at 10.5%. While down from its highs, a reading of 10.5% is still elevated relative to history.
As we have noted in the past, when triple plays have been more commonplace, the market response to individual stocks reporting triple plays has been less cheerful. When the rate at which triple plays exploded earlier in the pandemic, the average full-day change on earnings days tanked to some of the weakest in the history of our data. At the low last July, the average stock that reported a triple play over the prior three months only gained ~1.5% on its earnings reaction day. For all earnings triple plays since 2002, the average one-day share price response has been roughly +5%. Recently, stock price reactions to triple plays have been improving with an average gain of 3.1% over the past three months and a little better than two-thirds of triple plays moving higher. As with the triple play rate, that is not fully back to pre-pandemic levels, but it is trending in that direction. With the number of triple plays expected to be light this season, the stocks that do manage to report them should start to be rewarded again. Click here to learn more about Bespoke’s premium stock market research service.