Market News

The Earnings Season Edge: 3 Large-Cap Powerhouses To Bet On

The Market Melodrama

Wall Street’s current obsession revolves around whether the Fed will accelerate rate cuts, given the stubborn persistence of elevated inflation. As earnings season unfolds, the prevailing anxiety has led to a sell-off, a logical cool down from the market’s torrid momentum since October. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were always due to test their long-term moving averages in 2024.

Microsoft’s Next Frontier

Microsoft will unveil its Q2 FY24 earnings on January 30. Its transformation into a cloud computing and artificial intelligence powerhouse revitalized the company, propelling it to consistent sales and EPS growth. Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Activision Blizzard underscores its bold foray into gaming, VR, and the metaverse. With a robust balance sheet, including $144 billion in cash and equivalents, Microsoft is well-positioned for strategic expansions.

Zacks Investment Research
Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

Microsoft is expected to achieve a revenue spike of around 14% in both FY24 and FY25, rocketing from $212 billion to $275 billion. This correlates with a 14% growth in adjusted earnings. Microsoft consistently outperformed bottom-line estimates and maintains an impressive earnings outlook, earning a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) currently. Over the last 20 years, MSFT outshone the tech sector, boasting a 65% surge in the last 12 months compared to the sector’s 46%. Although the stock seems somewhat overheated, it is solidly trading above its long-term moving average, indicating enduring strength.

Zacks Investment Research
Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

Valuation-wise, MSFT trades at a 10% discount to its 10-year high with a forward 12-month P/E ratio of 32.5X. When considering its longer-term earnings growth outlook, its PEG ratio of 2.1 offers enticing value, presenting a 32% discount to historical highs. Microsoft’s commitment to dividend hikes and share repurchases further solidifies its promise as a long-term investment.

See also  Historical Perspective: S&P 500's Triumph, Magnificent 7's Ascent, & Worries About Commercial Real Estate The Ascendancy of S&P 500 and the Magnificent 7

The P&G Resilience

Procter & Gamble will release its Q2 FY24 earnings on January 23. As a dominant force in the consumer packaged goods landscape, P&G manufactures an array of household and personal essentials. The company’s diversified brand portfolio, including household names like Febreze, Swiffer, Head & Shoulders, and Pampers, leaves it well-positioned to thrive in diverse market conditions.

Zacks Investment Research
Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

Projected to achieve a 4% sales uptick for the current and next fiscal year, P&G anticipates an adjusted earnings growth of 9% and 8%, respectively. With a consistent earnings beat track record and upward EPS revisions, P&G currently holds a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). The stock has outperformed the consumer staples sector, with a 65% climb in the last five years, although it lagged the S&P 500 in the previous three years, posting an 11% increase compared to the index’s 26% surge.

Zacks Investment Research
Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

Trading at a modest 8% discount to its highs and slightly below its average Zacks price target, P&G is currently trading above its long-term moving average, indicating stability. With its status as a consumer staples stalwart, P&G emerges as a compelling long-term investment choice, particularly as it demonstrates resilience in diverse economic climates.