Forget banks—third-quarter earnings season doesn’t start until Wednesday, when Netflix and Tesla report.
Since Alcoa’s (ticker: AA) abdication, the kickoff of earnings season has been assigned to the U.S.’s big banks, including JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Citigroup (C), which reported earnings on Friday. This despite the fact that some large, prominent companies, including PepsiCo (PEP) and Delta Air Lines (DAL), disclosed their results earlier in the week.
Don’t expect the overall market to care too much about how the banks do. The S&P 500 financials sector, which includes banks and insurers but also Visa (V) and Mastercard (MA), totals 12.7% of the index’s market value. Its earnings contribution is expected to be larger, at 17.4% of third-quarter earnings, according to data from Refinitiv. But these days, the banks are less a reflection of the U.S. economy than they are of monetary and regulatory policy, which take up a good portion of their earnings calls.
No, earnings season doesn’t really get started until Wednesday, when the first of the large technology-oriented stocks that have driven the S&P 500 this year are set to report. That would be Tesla (TSLA) and Netflix (NFLX), followed by Alphabet (GOOGL), Microsoft (MSFT), Meta Platforms (META), Amazon.com (AMZN) next week, and then Apple (AAPL) on Nov. 2. Nvidia’s (NVDA) fiscal third quarter doesn’t end until Oct. 31, and it will report in late November.
The Magnificent Eight punch well above their fundamental weight, thanks to premium valuation multiples. The group makes up roughly 30% of the S&P 500’s market capitalisation but is expected to contribute just 10% of the index’s third-quarter sales and 16% of earnings, according to Refinitiv. Hits and misses from their results will prompt outsize moves in the index.
Take Meta, which Wall Street analysts expect to report $8.0 billion in earnings for the third quarter, up 120% from the same period last year. That’s nearly a full percentage-point contribution to the S&P 500’s overall expected earnings growth in the quarter.
Nvidia is responsible for another 1.5 percentage point of expected growth, Amazon for 0.6 point, and Alphabet and Microsoft for 0.5 point each. With growth rates like those, how well the biggest companies on the market do could meaningfully swing overall S&P 500’s earnings growth one way or another.
There’s a slim margin for error: Analysts are predicting 1.3% year-over-year earnings growth from the S&P 500 in the third quarter, per Refinitiv. The biggest expected individual detractors from the index’s year-over-year earnings growth are Exxon Mobil (XOM)—a 1.9-percentage-point drag—and Pfizer (PFE), a 1.5-point drag.
That’s before considering the potential impact to investor sentiment from Big Tech’s results. In a year dominated by macro themes, the enthusiasm around artificial intelligence has been one of the greatest bullish drivers of the stock market. Nvidia’s results are showing the benefit already, while other companies are more likely to be merely talking up the technology’s transformative potential.
Hype can only go so far—eventually even Microsoft, Meta, and Alphabet will need to show that their AI investments are yielding a positive return. The third quarter of 2023 is still early innings in the AI revolution, but signs of progress will be cheered by investors, and may be necessary to justify many of the Magnificent Eight’s huge rallies this year.
Third-quarter earnings season may have officially kicked off, but the real action has yet to begin.
Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’
Millennials and Gen Z are turning to peers instead of professionals for financial advice. They don’t trust banks, and they are tired of information overload.
Colin Saint-Vil got his money education at the dim sum cart, over a steamy plate of pork buns and turnip cake.
A friend offered to pick up the whole tab on her credit card, “for the points.” At the time, six years ago, “for the points” meant nothing to Saint-Vil, now a 30-year-old planning manager in Brooklyn, so he pressed for more details. They lingered over the dim sum meal as a larger conversation unfolded about annual percentage rates, credit-card debt, payment schedules and more.
Millennials and members of Gen Z prefer to seek financial advice from each other than from parents or from financial professionals. They don’t like overwhelming spreadsheets and marketing material written in seemingly foreign languages. They don’t trust big banks and institutions trying to sell them on investment strategies—as many were raised around the late 2000s financial-crisis. And, they are not wrong: There is a lot to be learned from comparing numbers with peers—from sharing salaries to talking out big decisions like home or car purchases.
Saint-Vil said when his father was his age, he had already begun investing in real estate, but with property prices now so high and mortgage rates only just beginning to fall, he said he couldn’t imagine being able to follow in his father’s footsteps. He, like many millennials and Gen Z-ers, describe their finances as “fairly good” these days, though they hold a negative picture of the greater economy, according to a new poll of 18 to 29-year-olds from the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School.
Millennials are still reeling from the impact of back-to-back recessions, all while large bank closures and investing scams dominate the headlines. Younger people report a feeling of “financial avoidance” exacerbated by high inflation and the pandemic-era budgeting.
As of June 2023, Gallup polling revealed a historically low faith in U.S. institutions, with younger generations voicing high skepticism. According to Gallup, only 9% of respondents aged 18 to 34 expressed “a great deal” of confidence in banks; meanwhile, 47% and 28% said they have “some” or “very little,” respectively.
But when it comes to winning back young consumers, these same financial institutions haven’t quite given up, and are rolling out new outreach programs and robo advisors, some of which have helped bridge a connection with Gen Z and millennials, said Keith Niedermeier, clinical professor of marketing at Indiana University. But many young people still say they prefer do-it-yourself investing platforms like Robinhood and Acorns over traditional advisers at more established wealth-management firms.
Andrew Ragusa, a real-estate broker based on Long Island, blamed the twin problems of low housing inventory and high home prices for postponing younger buyers’ ownership. The median age of a first-time home buyer in the U.S. is 35-years old as of 2023, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. That is slightly down from an record high of 36 in 2022, but still two years older than the median age in 2021, which is representative of an ageing first-time buyer trend.
When he talks with younger clients now, he detects a gloomy sentiment. “They try to be optimistic, but the overall sentiment is ‘This is supposed to be the American dream: we get a house and we get some financial security and I just have to have faith it will all work out in the end.’ But they don’t have faith it will.”
Fear and shame around being able to buy or accomplish as much as one’s parents might have financially can crop up when millennials talk to elders about their financial frustrations, said Jodi Kaus, director of Kansas State University’s student financial planning centre, Powercat Financial. She’s found that lessons and advice from friends are often more constructive.
Kaus leads a peer-to-peer financial planning centre that pairs up students to work through financial issues. She works to pair people with similar backgrounds: graduate students with graduate students or international students with international students. Talking with someone only a few years removed from your current situation means you’re better able to internalize the messages and execute on their advice, Kaus said.
“Early on, parents even say ‘Are you sure students can help my child?’” she said. “And I say ‘I am more than confident that they can help each other.’
Sharing money tips and financial know-how with your friends doesn’t only benefit the asker, Kaus said. In the Kansas State University peer-to-peer group, the advice giver also learns a lot from their own position, because sharing their story and bonding with a peer helps them to build their own confidence and belief in their financial acumen.
Lindsay Clark, a 34-year-old director of external affairs in Washington, D.C., recalls one lesson she shared with a friend carrying student loans from pharmacy school. Clark works at Savi, a student loan platform, and she offered to cook her friend dinner while they sorted through his loan repayment options. Long after they’d cleaned their dinner plates, they sat together at Clark’s kitchen island, lingering over a plate of homemade hummus and chatting about everything from financial goals to Costco card benefits.
“Those conversations blossom from the transparency, and the visibility makes both people feel really good,” she said. “That creates better relationships overall.”
When you’re talking about money issues with friends, Clark said, you’re not artificially inflating your salary or pretending to know more than you do. And most important, you’re not worried about their ulterior motives.
“You feel safe in that conversation, knowing their intentions are good and they’re not trying to make money off of you,” she said. “And that’s going to lead to better results, because we’re working with the reality here.”
Skepticism of pronounced experts and criticism of established financial institutions is especially common among millennials and Gen Z, Neidermeier said. Studies show people across generations are much likelier to take a friend or colleague’s recommendation to heart over that of a faceless institution, he said; people who spend time on social media just have a greater opportunity to source those answers and field questions.
“What people say to each other over the picket fence is what is the most influential,” he said.
At a certain point, however, talking solely to friends and peers for your financial lessons can be very limiting, said Sarah Behr, founder of Simplify Financial Planning in San Francisco. Relying on your social circle can also put a strain on those relationships; no one wants to be responsible for your disappointment when a financial decision that worked out well for them doesn’t fit as well in your own life.
Behr recommends tuning into your own emotional reactions when assessing peer advice: does the road map they followed align with your own financial values? Does it put pressure on you to live outside your means or challenge your personal risk tolerance? If the answer doesn’t feel clear, that could be a time to outsource to a financial professional who has no emotional connection to you or your financial status.
“‘People have been telling me do this, but I just don’t know if it’s the right thing for me’—I get a lot of calls like that,” said Behr.
Saint-Vil said he and his friends share tips on what high-yield savings accounts offer the best rates, and when he did his credit card research, he chose a card recommended by a friend. When it comes time to work with a financial adviser or even one day a wealth manager, he’ll likely work with someone recommended through a peer. Behr said close to 90% of her business comes by way of client referrals.
Since that first conversation over dim sum, Saint-Vil has thrown his own card onto the table at meals and shared his knowledge with other pals who look confused.
“I have a real wide range of friends who are in many different financial places, but I would say a rising tide lifts all ships,” he said.
Julia Carpenter is the co-author, with Bourree Lam, of The Wall Street Journal’s “The New Rules of Money: A Playbook for Planning Your Financial Future,” a personal-finance workbook published this week by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group.
Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’