JPMorgan Strategists Say Earnings Unlikely to Boost Lofty Stocks

Don’t bank on an upbeat corporate earnings season to drive equities higher as much of the optimism is already priced in following the record-breaking rally this year, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. strategists.

First-quarter profit estimates have been reduced going into the reporting period, lowering the bar for Corporate America to beat expectations, the team led by Mislav Matejka wrote in a note. S&P 500 earnings are projected to outright decline when excluding the technology behemoths, the strategists said.

At the same time, investor positioning is looking “very stretched” with the benchmark index scaling record highs on optimism around resilient economic growth and lower interest rates, Matejka said.

“Equities have already had a good run into the results, suggesting that investors are more optimistic than the downbeat earnings projections by sell-side analysts convey,” he said. “We need to see clear earnings acceleration in order to justify current equity valuations, which we fear might not come through.”

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