This past week marked the start to earnings season, and for the most part the reports disappointed investors and sparked sell-offs. One of the most important reports to hit the market this week came from banking giant JP Morgan. The firm reported a huge profit increase of 67% but sluggish revenues and little revenue growth kept the company’s stock in check. The banking sector was also hit by news of a brewing scandal involving several of the country’s largest banks and the possibility that they illegally influenced one of the world’s key interest rates, LIBOR. Thanks to this, markets hit their lows for the week on Thursday as these fears combined with weakness in the unemployment claims department to rekindle investor pessimism. However, thanks to some good news late Thursday and early Friday, some sectors of the economy managed to bounce back and put U.S. equities on a more solid footing heading into this week.
This week, the heart of earnings season is underway as a variety of bellwethers stretching across a number of industries are on tap. Companies ranging from IBM, Goldman Sachs, Philip Morris, GE, and Boeing all report this week, ensuring that volatility will strike a number of sectors and influence shaky investor confidence which has already been weakened by high oil prices and fears over rate hikes across the globe. Furthermore, since the central bank meetings and the economic data reports are both relatively insignificant, look for markets to be especially moved by earnings and geopolitical tensions during these next few sessions. In light of this, investors should look for the following three ETFs to be in focus throughout the week [for more ETF insights, sign up for our free ETF newsletter]:
Market Vectors Indonesia Index ETF (IDX)
Why IDX Will Be In Focus: Thanks to a renewed interest in risky assets, investors have once again taken a closer look at emerging market investing. While the nations of the BRIC bloc are always popular, many are growing increasingly enamored with the southeast Asian country of Indonesia. The markets of this country have been boosted by high commodity prices and increased demand for cheap labor, something that Indonesia has quite a bit of. While Indonesia is certainty rebounding quite nicely overall, a number of the country’s top companies which make up significant portions of IDX report this week, helping to either confirm or deny the recent trend in IDX’s price. Many of these reporting firms are in the banking sector so any insights into loan losses or predictions regarding the movement of interest rates should present a great deal of value to investors looking for further information regarding the health of the Indonesian economy [Top Ten Equity ETFs of 2010].
Biotech HOLDR (BBH)
Why BBH Will Be In Focus: Despite weakness in financials, consumer stocks, and even some basic material names, companies in the health care segment have proved remarkably resilient over the past few trading sessions. In fact, BBH has gained close to 7% over the last month and over 4.1% in the past week alone. However, these figures could soon change thanks to a bevy of earnings reports from some of the key names in the biotech industry. All three of BBH’s top holdings, Amgen, Gilead Sciences, and Biogen, all report earnings this week and combine to make up close to 75% of the fund’s total assets suggesting that this popular fund will be heavily influenced by these releases. Expectations for the sector look to be mixed as Amgen, the top component of BBH, looks to produce earnings of $1.29 a share–pretty much flat when compared to the year ago period. In terms of revenues, the company is expected to grow by 2%, suggesting that the firm has exited its high growth stage and is becoming an increasingly mature company. Due to this, some are looking for the firm to start paying out dividends in the near future so if that is announced look for investment in the biotech sector and BBH in particular to soar [Five Facts About HOLDRs Every Investor Must Know].
Guggenheim Airline ETF (FAA)
Why FAA Will Be In Focus: Thanks to the high price of oil, the transportation industry has been reeling as of late as crude prices have cut significantly into company earnings across the board. In fact, jet fuel prices have increased by 25% over the pat quarter and close to 43% over the past 12 months suggesting that significant cost pressures are being put on this ultra-competitive industry. Add this to the traditional lull in travel between the holidays and Mid march as well as poor weather and the reasons to be bearish on airline earnings rack up pretty quickly. Due to these factors, investors should pay close attention to the flurry of earnings report from the sector that are due out this week. While a number of smaller companies report many are likely to hone in on two of FAA’s top three components which both report this week and are often considered bellwethers of the industry; Southwest Airlines and Delta Airlines. These two giants combine to make up slightly less than 30% of the fund’s total assets and since they are leading the airline earnings charge, will probably set the tone for the rest of the industry as well. While expectations are set very low for the most recent quarter many analysts will be looking for strong guidance heading into the next quarter as it marks the beginning of the summer travel season. “What will be a better indicator for airline stock prices on the earnings release calls (this) week is guidance given by the carriers for the second quarter, when the strong travel season begins,” said Ray Neidl, an analyst with Maxim Group [compare FAA with the other airline ETF FLYX with our free ETF Comparison Tool].
Disclosure: Long IDX, photo is courtesy of Gunawan Kartapranata.