Wall Street has been slashing earnings estimates for months for the tech sector, which is projected to be the biggest drag on S&P 500 profits in the fourth quarter.
US technology stocks are about to hit their next hurdle when earnings season for the most influential segment of the S&P 500 Index gets underway in the coming week: vanishing profits.The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 Stock Index enters this crucial stretch amid a darkening backdrop that short-circuited a strong start to the year. Underscoring the risks ahead, Microsoft Corp., which kicks off the group’s reporting Tuesday, joined Amazon.com Inc. in starting to cut thousands of jobs this week as sales slow. Google parent Alphabet Inc. followed with plans of its own to shrink its workforce.Wall Street has been slashing earnings estimates for months for the tech sector, which is projected to be the biggest drag on S&P 500 profits in the fourth quarter, data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence show. The danger for investors, however, is that analysts still prove too optimistic, with demand for the industry’s products crumbling as the economy cools.“Tech is driving a lot of the overall earnings recession that we’re seeing in the S&P,” said Michael Casper, an equity strategist with Bloomberg Intelligence. “While there’s a lot baked in, depending on if this recession does emerge and how badly it occurs, there is certainly some negative revision risk for the sector still.”Firms including Texas Instruments Inc., Lam Research Corp. and Intel Corp. also report next week. Apple Inc., Alphabet and other behemoths announce the week after. The group has huge sway over the path of the overall market, with info-tech accounting for more than 25% of the S&P 500’s market capitalization.Fourth-quarter earnings for tech firms in the benchmark are projected to drop 9.2% from the same period a year earlier, the steepest slide since 2016, data compiled by BI show. The speed of the deterioration in sentiment is notable: Three months ago, Wall Street merely saw profits coming in flat.Revenue growth for these companies is fading relative to the past couple of years, when the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns supercharged sales for everything from digital services to personal computers and the components that power them. Higher costs are also squeezing profits.