Take Caution With Emerging-Market Stocks: Goldman

U.S. companies with significant exposure to crisis overseas have posted a weak financial quarter relative to the broader market, according to one team of analysts on the Street. In a recent note, Goldman Sachs pointed to a disappointing second quarter for corporations more heavily reliant on developing markets, warning of additional pain to hit emerging-market stocks as geopolitical and trade uncertainty looms. (See also: How to Profit by Going Contrarian.)

BRIC Companies Underperformed S&P 500 in Q2

Less than half of the companies in Goldman Sachs’ emerging-market stock basket, which includes firms with sales in Brazil, Russia, India and China (or BRIC), posted positive earnings surprises in the most recent three-month period. Meanwhile, the broader S&P 500 posted a blowout second quarter, hitting a seven-year record for earnings per share (EPS) growth at 25% and the highest percentage of positive EPS surprises over the period, as reported by CNBC. 

“Fully 23 percent of the stocks in the basket missed consensus sales estimates by more than one standard deviation, nearly double the percent of negative surprises in the S&P 500,” wrote Goldman’s chief equity strategist, David Kostin. “At the macro level, portfolio managers are attempting to handicap the outcome of trade negotiations and the timing and magnitude of tariffs.”

Kostin noted that the basket of BRIC companies has underperformed the S&P 500 by 250 basis points year-to-date (YTD). Firms listed in the group include Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS), Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN), Micron Technology Inc. (MU), NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) and Citigroup Inc. (C), which have a 2017 BRIC sales exposure of 88%, 73%, 73%, 72% and 35%, respectively, as reported by CNBC. 

The cautious note comes as tensions between Turkey and the White House escalate, with President Donald Trump authorizing a doubling of metal tariffs against the country on Friday. The Turkish lira has continued on its downward spiral after plunged about 20% against the dollar on Friday. Meanwhile, the Russian ruble remains beaten down after new U.S. sanctions and Washington’s feud with Beijing has failed to ease up. 

“A strong U.S. dollar represents a potential headwind to firms with the highest foreign sales exposure, as their goods and services become more expensive relative to goods and services within the foreign country,” Kostin wrote last month. “As a whole, tariffs will weigh on S&P 500 earnings in two ways: lower export revenues and lower margins resulting from higher input costs.” (See also: S&P 500 to Surge Past Record High: Morgan Analyst.)

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