Shira Gonen

About the Author Shira Gonen

Shira Gonen holds a Bachelor's degree in International Business from the Temple University in Philadelphia. Ms. Gonen joined the editorial team at TipRanks in November of 2015.

Wall Street’s Week Ahead: Alphabet Inc (GOOGL), Microsoft Corporation (MSFT), General Electric Company (GE), and The Coca-Cola Co (KO)

Factors such as currency fluctuations, cost-cutting initiatives, restructuring efforts, consumption trends, and asset sales are all expected to impact this week’s upcoming earnings reports. Here’s what to watch for as major players Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), General Electric Company (NYSE:GE), and  The Coca-Cola Co (NYSE:KO) post earnings this week.

Alphabet Inc.

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, will report its Q1:16 earnings on April 21 after market close. For this quarter, the second as a conglomerate, analysts are expecting revenues of $20.34 billion and earnings of $7.96 per share, compared to last quarter’s revenues of $21.32 and earnings of $8.67 per share.

In the report, analysts will be watching for both mobile and YouTube data points as these two segments are “key drivers of strength,” according to analyst Heather Bellini of Goldman Sachs who weighed in on the company with a Buy rating and $890 price target on April 14, 2016. She stated, “We view 1Q16 as the beginning of enhanced fiscal discipline driven by CFO Ruth Porat, given much of the CY15 plan was put in place by her predecessor.”

Recent big-screen smartphone releases by both Apple and Samsung, with the latter using Google’s Android operating system, are also expected to drive revenues this quarter. According to analysts, these products are increasing click volume for core Google search, with the company working to optimize mobile monetization. As such, analysts are expecting the company to display ad net revenue increases in its earnings report.

Analysts will also be watching for resource allocation updates, as some express concern over the company’s $3.7 billion high-speed internet experiment Google Fiber, intended to beam wireless internet into homes. The company is also involved in some tax battles with both the UK and French governments, each seeking millions of euros in taxes and late interest charges. Analysts will be watching for any updates related to these issues, which could serve as a catalyst for shares. Despite analyst concern, CFO Ruth Porat indicated that core Google search will more than cover any higher costs this quarter.

According to TipRanks statistics, an overwhelming 97% of analysts who cover GOOGL recommend buying shares while 3% of analysts are neutral on the stock. The average 12-month price target between these analysts is $927, marking a 19% potential upside from where shares last closed.

Microsoft Corporation

Microsoft Corporation will be reporting its Q3:2016 earnings on Thursday, April 21 after market close. For Q3, analysts are expecting the company to post revenues of $22.11 billion and earnings of $0.64 per share, compared revenues of $21.73 billion and earnings of $0.61 per share for the same quarter of last year.

Like other tech giants, the company has suffered from weak PC demand, though analysts believe declines should ease by the end of 2016. As a result, Microsoft has transitioned to the cloud with MS Azure and Office 365, both expected to bolster revenues for the quarter. Last quarter, the company posted a 70% increase in Office 365 revenues, and analysts will be watching closely for this quarter’s numbers. Similarly, analysts are expecting an increase in search revenue as well as new operating system Windows 10. As of March 30, Windows 10 had a 270 million user installed base, up 145% from Window’s 7 users. The OS success stems in part from the ability to run on any device.

Related to the cloud, analysts will be looking for increased profit margin from cloud services, as the company reported higher per customer sales vs that of software licenses. Furthermore, Microsoft is ensuring it stays a viable competitor in the cloud sector by focusing on SaaS (software as a service) rather than just data centers, integrating with Amazon’s AWS by making Azure Linux OS compatible, marking a shift from a Windows-only strategy. Analysts expect this move to reflect positively in the earnings report. Other areas of focus for this report include updates on autonomous driving, as Microsoft has followed suit of many other tech companies and partnered with BMW using Azure technology to power BMW’s Connected App, which could have self-driving capabilities in the future.

Areas of concern include this quarter’s strong dollar, which is expected to have a negative impact on international revenues as the company generates over half of its revenues outside the United States. While Office 365 is gaining traction, some analysts fear the segment will steal revenues away from others. Analyst Heather Bellini of Goldman Sachs maintained a Neutral rating on the company with a $57 price target on April 15, 2016. She stated, “We believe consensus is underestimating the yoy decline in the company’s Office Transactional and Annuity business as these customers migrate to Office 365.”

According to TipRanks, 68% of analysts who have rated the company in the past 3 months are bullish on the stock. On the other hand, 9% are bearish, while 23% remain neutral. The average 12-month price target between these analysts is $57.93, marking a 4% potential upside from where shares last closed.

General Electric Company

GE will post first quarter earnings on Friday, April 22 before market open. Analysts expect the company to post revenue of $28 billion and EPS of $0.20, marking a 5% year-over-year decrease and a 36% year-over-year decrease, respectively. Many analysts are holding their breath as the company has missed estimates in seven of the eight prior quarters.

Analysts are also looking for an update as GE has been working on several cost-cutting measures. In March, GE management discussed plans to drive higher margins, specifically in its healthcare segment. The company has also been selling off its finance arm, and in late March requested to shed its SIFI designation. SIFI, or systemically important financial institutions, are companies that are closely monitored by the Federal Reserve because of fears that failures of such large companies would trigger widespread crises. By shedding this title, GE will be able to make management decisions more autonomously.

Looking forward, the company forecasts full-year 2016 EPS of $1.50 and revenue of $126.2 billion, marking a 14% and 20% year-over-year increases, respectively. Analysts will be looking for GE to reaffirm this guidance.

According to TipRanks, 60% of analysts who cover the stock are bullish while 40% remain neutral. The average 12-month price target between these analysts is $33, marking a 6% potential upside from where shares last closed.

The Coca-Cola Co

Coca Cola is set to release Q1:16 earnings on Wednesday, April 20 before market open. For this quarter, analysts are expecting revenues of $10.3 billion and earnings of $0.20 per share, compared to revenues of $10.7  billion and earnings of $0.48 per share for the same quarter of last year.

Analysts are worried that this quarter could reflect ongoing negative soda consumption trends, impacting the company’s core product. Moreover, the World Health Organization recently indicated that governments could implement a tax on sugary drinks, representing another threat to its core business. Analysts will also be watching economic factors such as currency fluctuations and uncertain emerging market economies, as much of the company’s revenues come from outside of the United States.

Analysts are keeping a close eye on the effects that continued restructuring will have on earnings. As part of its restructuring efforts, originally announced in 2014, the company stated in February that they are ramping up refranchising and divesting many of its North American soda-bottling plants. Additionally, the company cut 1,500 jobs as part of its planned $3 billion cost cutting initiative, scheduled to be achieved by 2019.

Last quarter, increased marketing efforts (as a result of cost cutting in other areas) resulted in 3% growth of North American beverage volumes for the company. Also part of the restructuring plan is selling additional assets, raising prices, and changes in leadership, which analysts believe should be reflected in earnings as soon as 2017-2018. The company hopes to display earnings growth in the high to single digits, as it has missed estimates for the last 3 years. While refranchising efforts may reduce revenue in the short term, it is expected to improve operating margins by 50%. Nik Modi of RBC Capital, who reiterated an Outperform rating and $51 price target on the company on April 14, 2016, weighed in on the refranchising efforts, stating, “We believe investors have over looked the implication of CocaCola’s refranchising efforts on the company’s volume trends.”

According to TipRanks, 70% of analysts covering the beverage giant are bullish on the company while 30% remain neutral. The average 12-month price target between these analysts is $48.86, marking a 6% potential upside from where shares last closed.

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