Halftime report: Is fear of a weak 3Q overblown?
Revenue will remain under pressure if current economic trends continue. The U.S. economy is growing at a sluggish 2 percent annual rate, the government said Friday. If growth remains slow, revenue gains will remain weak, analysts say.
The global economic slowdown, meanwhile, is threatening companies that rely on overseas markets. Businesses had relied on international sales to offset weak U.S. consumer demand. Europe’s recessions and China’s pullback are making that more difficult.
Last year, S&P 500 companies got 11.1 percent of their revenue from sales to European countries, according to data compiled by Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst with S&P Dow Jones Indices.
The problem is not confined to Europe. In all, companies generated 46.1 percent of their revenue from sales outside the U.S. The data include 252 companies that include such information in their financial disclosures.
It’s difficult to say definitively whether U.S. companies that sell only domestically are doing better than those that operate overseas. But analysts and companies say anecdotally that it’s harder to make a sale in recession-wracked Europe than in the slow-growth U.S.
Another challenge for multinationals: the almighty dollar. As it strengthens against other currencies, sales overseas translate into fewer dollars of revenue back home.
Coca-Cola told analysts that currency exchange rates sliced its operating income by 7 percent and its net revenue by 5 percent in the quarter. McDonald’s said exchange rates reduced its per-share earnings by 8 cents to $1.43 per share. Both companies expect the drag to continue in this quarter, which ends Dec. 31.
Some traders see foreign-exchange adjustments as yet another way for companies to game their numbers or explain away weak performance.
‘‘You definitely didn’t hear anything when the dollar was falling about how it was juicing returns then,’’ said Tim Courtney, chief investment officer at Exencial Wealth Advisors in Oklahoma City.
Longer-term investors can take comfort that the pullback is part of the regular ebb and flow of the business cycle, says Bernard Schoenfeld, senior investment strategist at Bank of New York Mellon Wealth Management in New York.
‘‘They’re not losses, they’re just less growth,’’ Schoenfeld says of the recent reports. ‘‘It’s not unusual to have a pause this far into a recovery period.’’
Rexrode reported from New York.
Daniel Wagner can be reached at www.twitter.com/wagnerreports.