Warnings Roster: Who's Warned, Who's Mum

Who hasn't warned this quarter, and what it means for investors
Author:
Publish date:

Microsoft's

(MSFT) - Get Report

earnings warning Thursday, the first from the software company in more than 10 years, felt almost hum-drum. Who

hasn't

warned lately?

To find out, we looked at the companies that make up the

S&P 100

-- mostly blue-chip firms -- to see which companies this quarter had already warned of earnings or revenue shortfalls. We also looked at which companies have given upward guidance suggesting their upcoming earnings or revenue figures will be higher than expected, and which said they were comfortable with analysts' estimates. We also wanted to see who hadn't made a peep yet during this fourth calendar quarter. The charts linked here show the data, which come from

First Call/Thomson Financial

.

Click here for the charts of those firms that have given guidance on upcoming financials.

Click here for those that haven't said a thing.

What these lists mean for investors depends on the sector. A look at the companies that have warned shows that several tech outfits (e.g.,

Lucent

(LU)

and

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

), consumer cyclicals (e.g.,

Black & Decker

and

Sears Roebuck

(S) - Get Report

) and consumer staples stocks (e.g.,

Procter & Gamble

(PG) - Get Report

and

Sara Lee

(SLE)

) have already warned. However, a long list of companies from the S&P 100 -- 54 -- has yet to be heard from.

Among consumer cyclicals and consumer staples, "We may not see that many more" warnings, says Chuck Hill, research director at First Call/Thomson Financial. "The euro has been a problem in the past but that is getting better, so things could be getting better" overall for this group. Hill also points out that during the past four years or so, consumer staples have been out of favor. These "could be a safe haven again," he says. "It may be reverting."

With oil prices starting to come down, Hill says, the transports might be safe, too. Ditto for companies in the health care industry. "It's business as usual" for these guys, says Hill. "The companies are doing their normal thing, holding up." And the energy stocks? "I think we see upward revisions from analysts in the energy complex, at least in the near term," Hill says. "It looks safe."

The energy group, with companies like

ExxonMobil

(XOM) - Get Report

and

Halliburton

(HAL) - Get Report

, hasn't resorted to warnings. Same thing goes for the transports, which include companies like

Burlington Northern

(BNI)

and

Norfolk Southern

(NSC) - Get Report

.

As for technology, "I would suspect that we will get further warnings from the techs," says Hill. He points to deteriorating fundamentals at some tech companies as well as a souring of their venture capital investments. (Intel is a recent

example.) There are still several tech stocks that have been eerily silent during the preannouncement period, stocks like

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

and

Computer Sciences

(CSC)

.

Herb Greenberg

in a recent

column practically begged IBM to get it over with and just warn already.

Most of the financials have slipped by silently -- so far. But the recent

Chase Manhattan

(CMB)

/J.P. Morgan

(JPM) - Get Report

shortfalls, however, have Hill wondering about the group. "The credit issues, that is the wild card," he says. "We are not out of the woods by any means." If that's the case, there are plenty of companies in the list that have yet to announce -- and have not yet made a peep.

With 54 companies yet to squawk, there may be plenty of cries to come.