Check Out These Upcoming Earnings Reports

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Perusing the earnings releases scheduled for the week of July 15, solid companies operating in mostly favorable environments can be found. The potential for earnings surprises seems decent, as ties to the housing, corrugated packaging, and industrial production/manufacturing activity are reflected in results.

An electrical-equipment company at the top of its game

W.W. Grainger (NYSE: GWW) encompasses numerous of the key aspects one should seek in an electrical equipment firm. It is expanding through acquisition and internationally, while maintaining a foothold in the light and heavy manufacturing sectors. Its products are primarily sold into the maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) market and sales fluctuate along with industrial production, as well as gross domestic product.

Second-quarter earnings will likely be approximately $2.96 a share, as compared with the prior-year tally of $2.63. Sales growth is stemming from heavy and light manufacturing customers, as well as natural resources, diversified commercial services and contractor markets. Plus, Grainger is likely benefiting from investments in growth by way of expanded sales coverage, e-commerce, advertising, IT systems and greater distribution.

Grainger's international sales growth is outstripping that of the U.S. and Canada considerably, though last year's acquisition in Brazil is limiting margins abroad.

Overall, the company is in good shape, as it aims to offset cyclically unfavorable factors through growth initiatives. The shares offer additional near-term appreciation, given positive June-quarter results when the company reports on July 17.

Residential construction fueling profit gains

One certain beneficiary of the upturn in housing metrics is Pool Corp (NASDAQ: POOL). Analysts think June-period earnings will be reported at about $1.40 per share, versus $1.34 per share in the comparable year-ago interim. As home sales and housing starts are on the rise, so goes swimming pool construction. Thus, although only contributing about 20% of sales or so historically, Pool's irrigation business is growing at a double-digit-percentage pace, likely supporting bottom-line gains. This trend was probably key during the company's seasonably strong June quarter.

Pool's results sway on the conditions in core states, including California, Florida, Texas, and Arizona. It should benefit in its main supplies business from a larger base of swimming pools and higher spending driven by sales activity.

In all, I think Pool will record a strong quarter when it reports on July 18. The shares could jump on a positive earnings surprise.

Two packaging-product makers with differing operations

Sonoco Products (NYSE: SON), reporting on July 18, is estimated to have earned $0.58 a share in the June quarter, even with the 2012 mark. Sales had been under pressure due to plant downtime and lower retail sales. However, several factors might well have bolstered results in the June period.

For one, pricing trends have become more favorable. Secondly, restructuring initiatives are probably allowing for operating margin improvements. Third, Sonoco is winning numerous new projects, i.e. a container-board display for Energizer.

Sonoco shares, therefore, could gain ground on an acceleration in earnings comparisons. The stock also offers an annual dividend yield of 3.5% for income-focused accounts.

Another packaging company, Packaging Corp of America (NYSE: PKG), is more consistent, enjoying ongoing earnings gains. It is estimated to have earned $0.63 a share in the June quarter, representing a $0.14 year-over-year advance. The results may actually reflect a lull in the pace of growth.

In fact, during the current, September, quarter, Packaging Corp. will realize the benefit of its passing on of higher container-board prices and a reduced level of mill maintenance downtime. As such, look for profit gains to increase further, and full-year growth to possibly exceed 40% for share earnings.

Accordingly, the shares, recently hitting an all-time high, should be considered, given positive news on July 16, when it reports.

Summing it up

These releases will be worth looking into to see if some of the economic trends that are shaping up have given a lift to earnings. The early releases may serve as suggestions as to the strength of later reports, and to gauge the direction of the market in the back half of 2013.

Damon Churchwell has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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