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Q1 Earnings Season Poised to Fuel Stock Rally?

Published 04/04/2024, 14:06

What a difference a quarter makes. Coming into 2024, strategists were generally downbeat about what the year’s equity returns may be. Tempering expectations made sense considering the S&P 500® 26% total return in 2023 and with uncertainty around how GDP growth would unfold along with a shifting inflationary backdrop.1 There are still big questions around Fed policy, consumer spending, and the overall valuation of US stocks. But after a solid 10% total return among domestic large caps from January through March, and with a Fed that appears to be on investors’ side, things feel pretty good as springtime kicks into high gear.

Earnings Season on Tap

We’ll know a whole lot more in just a few weeks once the Q1 earnings season gets going. On the macro front, upcoming jobs data will be key to interest rate policy – Chair Powell said as much in the FOMC press conference last month.2 Amid both firm-specific earnings and economy-wide data, volatility catalysts will be many. Toss in a busy April through June period of corporate conferences and investor gatherings, and new clues are likely to emerge across sectors.

Along with the key macro factors, Wall Street Horizon hosts a Data Minds event on April 11 to shed light on risks ahead of the Q1 reporting season. Capital markets experts will share insights on leveraging data to better manage risks emerging from AI regulation, ESG greenwashing, the rise of thematic and actively managed ETFs, and more.

Sector Theme Round-Up

Many of the same themes are front and center as Q2 begins. AI is all the rage in tech-related industries and weight-loss drugs continue to support the Health Care sector, though those two groups slightly underperformed last quarter.3

On the retail front, several companies, including McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) and Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI), cited a consumer pullback.4 Among Financials, capital markets may be showing signs of life given Reddit's (NYSE:RDDT) solid IPO and record bond issuance in January and February.5 The highlight in Industrials was arguably Uber (NYSE:UBER) climbing to the no. 3 spot in that sector’s mix or maybe General Electric's (NYSE:GE) spring back to dominance.6

As we hop-scotch around, Energy benefitted from high oil prices – domestic WTI topped $80 per barrel while global Brent ended Q1 above $85; Energy, Communication Services, and Financials posted the best sector returns in March.7 Demand for natural resources likewise helped Materials – agricultural commodities soared, namely the wild run-up in cocoa futures. Gold also notched fresh all-time highs.

Conference Season: What to Expect

So, all’s well, right? It’s hard to say for sure, but CEO sentiment appears to be on the mend and consumer sentiment is healthier compared to last year. Volatility can arise at any time, though, and investors must be on guard for possible risks as the bull market matures. Here are some of the most important corporate conferences, trade shows, and summits that could move markets as executives offer their thoughts on what the investment future may have in store.

Information Technology & Communication Services
April 9: Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Cloud Next
April 24: JP Morgan 7th Asean TMT & Fintech 1X1 Forum (virtual)
May 9: RBC Capital Markets Technology Private Company Conference
May 9: Taiwan International Semiconductor Executive Summit
May 14: Google I/O Developers Conference
May 14: Needham 19th Annual Technology & Media Conference
May 15: JP Morgan European Technology, Media, and Telecoms TMT Conference
May 20: JP Morgan 52nd Annual TMT Global Technology Media and Communications Conference
May 21: Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Build Conference
May 29: Goldman Sachs Global Semiconductor Conference

Health Care
April 8: Needham and Company 23rd Annual Virtual Healthcare Conference (virtual)
April 11: Jefferies Radiopharma Innovation Summit
April 15: Canaccord Genuity Horizons in Oncology Conference
April 16: Stifel Targeted Oncology Days
May 14: RBC Capital Markets Global Healthcare Conference
May 14: Piper Sandler Spring Biopharma Symposium
May 14: Bank of America Securities Global Healthcare Conference
May 15: GLP-1-Based Therapeutics Summit

Consumer Discretionary & Consumer Staples
April 2: JP Morgan 10th Annual Retail Round-Up
May 15: Goldman Sachs Global Staples Forum
May 18: National Restaurant Association Show
May 21: HSBC Consumer Conference

Financials & Real Estate
April 2: Deutsche Bank Inaugural Healthcare REIT Summit
April 18: CIBC Real Estate Investor Conference
May 8: Wells Fargo 27th Annual Real Estate Securities Conference
May 14: Janney Montgomery Scott Forth Annual Real Estate Conference
May 14: JP Morgan Insurance Forum
May 21: Barclays Leveraged Finance Conference
May 29: Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE:DB) 14th Annual Global Financial Services Conference

May 6: Oppenheimer 18th Annual Industrial Growth Conference (virtual)
May 14: Bank of America Securities Transportation Airlines & Industrials Conference
May 14: RBC Capital Markets Canadian Industrials Conference
May 16: Bank of America Global Industrials Conference
May 28: KeyBanc Capital Markets Industrials & Basic Materials Conference

Energy & Utilities
April 9: Bank of America Energy, Utilities, and Infrastructure Conference
April 9: Bank of America Virtual Nuclear Mini-Conference (virtual)
April 9: BMO & CAPP Energy Symposium
April 23: RBC Battery Conference
May 6: Stifel Investor Summit at Waste Expo
May 14: Citi’s Energy and Climate Technology Conference
May 16: BMO Chemicals Conference
May 21: TD Cowen 2nd Annual Virtual Sustainability Conference (virtual)

April 9: Gold Forum Europe Zurich
May 7: Canaccord Genuity 3rd Annual Global Metals & Mining Conference
May 13: Bank of America BofA Global Metals, Mining and Steel Conference
May 14: Citi Chemicals Conference, London
May 15: BMO Capital Markets 19th Annual Farm to Market Conference
May 22: Raymond James Silver Equities Conference

April 9: Jefferies LatAm & American Summit
April 30: HSBC UK Corporate & Investor Conference
May 1: Goldman Sachs European Small and Mid-Cap Symposium
May 6: Goldman Sachs Saudi Conference - In Association with Saudi Exchange
May 14: UBS Best of Europe Virtual Conference (virtual)
May 14: Morgan Stanley EEMEA Conference
May 14: UBS Pan European Small and Mid-Cap Conference
May 21: Goldman Sachs TechNet Conference Asia Pacific

Investor Specific & Multi-Sector
April 8: HSBC Global Investment Summit (Hong Kong)
April 10: Wolfe Research Spring Small Group Conference
May 3: Gabelli Omaha Value Investor Conference
May 7: Barclays Americas Select Franchise Conference
May 8: Sidoti May Micro Cap Virtual Conference (virtual)
May 9: Oppenheimer 9th Annual Emerging Growth Conference (virtual)
May 29: Bank of America Securities Emerging Markets Debt & Equity Conference

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