March was a relatively quiet month for guidance from S&P 500 companies, as just eight companies issued quarterly EPS guidance for Q1 2013 and 22 companies issued annual EPS guidance for the current fiscal year during the month.
For Q1 2013 overall, 86 companies have issued negative EPS guidance, while 24 companies have issued positive EPS guidance. As a result, 78% (86 out of 110) of the companies that have issued EPS guidance for Q1 2013 have issued negative EPS guidance. If 78% is the final percentage, the Q1 2013 quarter will have the highest percentage of companies issuing negative EPS guidance since FactSet began tracking the data in Q1 2006. However, the percentage of negative guidance has been unusually high at this stage of the quarter (at the end) for the past several quarters. In the prior six quarters, the final percentage of negative guidance finished below the percentage at the end of the quarter. At the sector-level, the Health Care sector has seen an abnormally high spike in the number of companies that have issued negative EPS guidance for Q1.
For the current fiscal year overall, 168 companies have issued negative EPS guidance and 77 companies have issued positive EPS guidance. As a result, the overall percentage of companies issuing negative EPS guidance to date for the current fiscal year stands at 69% (168 out of 245). This marks the third consecutive month that the percentage of negative EPS guidance has increased, as companies in the index transition to issuing annual guidance for 2013 as the new current fiscal year (instead of 2012).