Wall Street is expecting a third straight quarter of falling profits and the worst decrease since the pandemic in 2020, when second quarter earnings are reported in July, but that may be the bottom for this year.

Wall Street expects per-share profit for S&P 500 index companies to fall 6.5% for the second quarter, according to FactSet. That would be the worst decrease since the 31.6% plunge seen during the same quarter in 2020.

But for the rest of the year, forecasts, for now, call for things to get better, and analysts will be zeroed in on whether those projections bear out.

For the third quarter, Wall Street analysts expect corporate per-share profit to rise 0.7%. For the fourth, they expect an 8% gain. However, those expectations could still come down, as analysts adjust their outlooks to reflect executive commentary about demand trends on the ground.

Inflation has been slowing since last year when the war in Ukraine initially drove up costs for supplies, but customers are still struggling with markups at grocery stores and at the gasoline pump.

Retailers like Walmart Inc.
have expressed concern about the impact of higher prices on consumer demand, and recession anxieties have hung on. Meanwhile, suspicions have grown that companies were taking advantage of the disruption to keep prices higher.

“Businesses have rediscovered the pricing lever,” Tom Barkin, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, said during an address in Maryland. “If they can raise prices and not lose much volume, they have an efficient path to increased earnings. They won’t throw that option away until competitors and customers force their hand.”

This week in earnings

Eight companies among the S&P 500
including two Dow constituents, are set to report quarterly results for the week ahead.

Cruise-line operator Carnival Corp.
reports, for a look at revenge-travel. Results from packaged-food giant General Mills Inc.
and spice-maker McCormick & Co.
will also tell customers something about whether grocery prices are getting any cheaper. Chip maker Micron Technology Inc.
meanwhile, faces questions about a sales ban in China. Drugstore chains Rite Aid Corp.
and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.
also report.

The call to put on your calendar

Nike earnings: Will sneakers get any cheaper? Lots of Vans sneakers are on sale, as shoppers hold off on buying shoes and clothes to cover more expensive necessities. Foot Locker Inc.
in May cut its outlook. Adidas’s
$1.2 billion purge of its Yeezy-brand sneakers is ongoing.

Either way, lots of sneakers are still just sitting around unsold, which means better deals for customers. But the sneaker surplus has raised questions about how much shoe makers and retailers will cut prices to get them sold, and that sneaker surplus will be a focus for Wall Street when Nike Inc. reports its fourth-quarter results on Thursday. Nike
executives in March said that sales of product sold at full price were still going strong, and were making progress on slimming down their inventories. And while analyst expectations heading into Nike’s financials were muted, clearing a low bar can translate into higher returns for investors.

The number to watch

No. 1 beer, but for how long? Constellation Brands Inc.’s Modelo Especial recently took down Bud Light as the nation’s best-selling beer, after a conservative-led boycott of Bud Light that began in April and has threatened to stretch through the Fourth of July. When Constellation
the parent of Corona and other beer and wine brands, reports on Friday, executives could put more figures behind those gains and any others, as more beer and wine drinkers try to save their money.

While the boycott, fueled by anti-trans sentiment after Bud Light ran a brief promotional partnership with a trans influencer, has temporarily reshaped who drinks what light beer, the beer industry faces weaker demand, amid competition from seltzer and other alcoholic beverages. What’s more, two big drinking days, the Fourth of July and Labor Day, are on the horizon, and the nation’s biggest brewers will likely roll out price cuts and other promotions. And some analysts say that Bud Light is unlikely to give up more ground without a fight.


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