Nervous Eyes On The Stock Market As Big Week Of Media Earnings Arrives

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Friday’s massive selloff by the major U.S. stock markets punctuated a weekly drop that was the steepest in two years. Shares in virtually all media companies were dragged down as well.

Against that backdrop, the media business will be keeping a nervous eye on stocks as it prepares for a big week of quarterly earnings. Disney reports earnings after the close of trading on Tuesday, with 21st Century Fox up the following day and then Viacom and Lionsgate on Thursday.

The tech sector has largely been spared during the pullback, and leaders like Amazon and Apple disclosed strong quarterly results last week. Snapchat parent Snap Inc. will test the waters when it reports earnings on Tuesday.

The Dow’s 666-point meltdown on Friday was sparked by a jobs report indicating higher wages, often a sign of imminent inflation. (If inflation does rise, financing debt would become more expensive for companies.) Bulls would offer the reminder that over the past year the Dow is still up a remarkable 27%, meaning the slide fits the definition of a “peak correction,” meaning a drop of 10% from a peak level. A modest shakeout, after all, can often be a healthy thing.

There is anxiety in many quarters, though, about valuations spiraling upward as companies continue to clear a rising bar of expectation. More than half of the companies in the S&P have reported fourth-quarter results, and 80% of them have beaten analysts’ estimates, according to FactSet — the highest level since 2008.

One indicator that may not be based in hard science but has still managed a 78% accuracy rate is the Super Bowl Predictor. Its theory holds that the Dow will go on to post gains for the year if an original NFL team (meaning this year the Philadelphia Eagles) wins the game, and it will decline for the year if a team from the old American Football League (meaning the New England Patriots) prevails. The NFL and AFL, merged in 1970.

Breaking a string of seven consecutive years of winning forecasts, the Predictor was foiled after the last two title games, but it still has a success rate overall of 40 of the 51 Super Bowls played to date.

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