20% of S&P 500 Have Negative Guidance for Q1

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As of Thursday morning, a total of 94 S&P 500 companies have issued negative guidance for the first quarter of 2016, while only 27 have issued positive guidance. If the number remains unchanged, this year’s first quarter will show the second-highest total, trailing only the fourth quarter of 2013.

The tech sector leads with 25 companies so far issuing negative first-quarter guidance. Some 18 firms in the consumer discretionary sector have issued negative guidance and 17 (a new record) health care companies also posted negative guidance.

The data were reported by FactSet Research Systems, which defines negative guidance as an estimate provided by the company that is lower than the mean EPS estimate from analysts on the day before the guidance was issued.

Of the 27 companies issuing positive guidance, 11 are in the tech sector and six are in the consumer discretionary sector.

The company with the widest negative differential between the mean EPS estimate and corporate guidance is Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU) with a difference of negative 139%. Autodesk Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) had the second-largest difference, negative 79%, followed by Activision Blizzard Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI) with a negative 41% difference.

Companies with the most upside compared with EPS estimates were Applied Materials Inc. (NASDAQ: AMAT), Edwards Lifesciences Corp. (NYSE: EW) and Boston Properties Inc. (NYSE: BXP) with positive differences of 21%, 19.0% and 18.6%, respectively.

Revenue guidance was a little better, with 83 of 155 companies (54%) guiding revenues lower than estimates and 72 (46%) guiding revenues higher than estimates. The tech sector had 39 companies issue guidance, with 28 (72%) offering negative guidance and 11 (28%) giving positive revenue guidance.