The first earnings season of 2020 will ramp up soon, and over a period of four weeks or so, investors will once again receive a concentrated batch of corporate reports that will help set the narrative on Wall Street for the new year -- and for the start of the new decade. After a year in which the broader stock market surged nearly 30%, the bar is set fairly high for those companies' numbers.
Among those due to report in the last 10 days of January, I think these three are particularly worth putting on your calendar: streaming-video specialist Netflix (NFLX 0.33%), tech giant Apple (AAPL 0.30%), and social network juggernaut Facebook (META -1.23%).
Netflix will report its fourth-quarter results on Jan. 21, and as usual, investors will be looking for more strong user growth from the streaming-video company. Going into Q4, management forecast there would be 7.6 million paid member additions during the period. This would be an improvement from the 6.8 million members Netflix added in Q3, but down from the 8.8 million it gained in Q4 2018.
Hitting that target would put Netflix's paid members at 166 million, up nearly 27 million from the end of 2018 -- considerable year-over-year growth.
Apple will deliver its fiscal first-quarter update following the market close on Jan. 28. The company returned to earnings-per-share growth in the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2019 (which ended Sept. 28). Now, investors will be looking for healthy results from its services business and a robust slate of new products to help the tech company continue in this direction.
Analysts are certainly betting that Apple can grow its bottom line. On average, analysts expect earnings per share for the holiday period of $4.53 -- up from $4.18 in the year-ago quarter.
For Facebook, the revenue growth rate for the fourth quarter will be in focus when it reports its results on Jan. 29. After the company posted 29% year-over-year revenue growth in Q3, management said on the earnings call that it expected the Q4 revenue growth rate to decelerate into the range of 20% to 24%.
Those expectations for softer growth, CFO Dave Wehner explained, reflected the tough comparison it faces with the year-ago period, when the company delivered "several successful product optimizations." Management also expected some ad-targeting headwinds in Q4.