Stocks had their worst week of 2017 last week, as both the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.73%) and the S&P 500 (^GSPC 0.91%) shed over 1%. Still, the two indexes remain higher by more than 4% so far this year.
Earnings reports could produce big swings in a few individual stocks over the next few trading days. Some of the most anticipated announcements include those from Cal-Maine Foods (CALM 3.83%), Carnival (CCL -5.70%), and McCormick (MKC -0.27%).
Cal-Maine's fragile profit outlook
Egg specialist Cal-Maine will post its fiscal-third-quarter results on Monday. The company has been enduring brutal industry trends in the wake of the avian flu that devastated the supply of egg-laying hens in 2015. Farmers only recently brought their hen numbers back up to the pre-crisis levels, but while consumer demand is still strong, commercial customers are buying far fewer eggs and export markets have been slow. As a result, there's significant oversupply in the industry. "Our results for the second quarter of fiscal 2017 reflect extremely challenging market fundamentals," CEO Dolph Baker told investors in December.
Last quarter, average selling prices fell 51% as sales plunged 54%. Cal-Maine booked a net loss of $23 million, translating to $0.48 per share, compared to a gain of $109 million, or $2.26 per share, in the prior-year period.
For the current quarter, improving industry trends, along with a focus on premium products like cage-free eggs, should help results. Wall Street is looking for a sales decline of 28%, to $325 million, but volatile supply and demand conditions mean there's a good chance the actual number is far different.
Carnival aims to steam into 2017
Carnival shares are near all-time highs heading into the first-quarter earnings report on Tuesday. Investors have good reasons for optimism, given that the cruise line giant just closed out its most profitable year yet. Steady capacity growth combined with healthy demand gains to push prices higher in 2016 as revenue per available room improved by 3.5%.
CEO Arnold Donald and his executive team are looking for similarly solid gains in fiscal 2017, thanks to what they described in December as healthy booking momentum. Carnival is "in a stronger booked position entering the new year at higher prices as a result of our ongoing efforts to increase consideration and demand for brands," Donald said at the time.
Executives forecast a 2% gain in net revenue per room this quarter, which should power adjusted earnings per share of between $0.31 and $0.35. Investors will also be focused on the company's updated outlook for the fiscal year ahead.
McCormick's sales growth pace
McCormick's herbs and spices business is looking healthy heading into Tuesday's earnings results. Sure, sales growth in the most recent quarter was modest, but the company paired its 4% increase with solid profit margin expansion so that operating income jumped 6%. "We are proud of our performance in 2016 and have good momentum heading into 2017," CEO Lawrence Kurzius said in a January press release. The company's full-year results were also boosted by a cost-cutting program that sliced over $100 million out of its expense burden.
McCormick believes the global herbs and spices market will grow at a 5% rate over the next few years. Through strong branding, marketing, and product innovation, the company sees its own growth slightly outpacing the industry. Sales should improve by between 5% and 7% in fiscal 2017, executives forecast, while profits rise at a slightly faster pace. Any significant deviation from those broad targets in Tuesday's announcement could produce volatility for shareholders.