How bad have things gotten for the energy sector? FactSet is now predicting that the sector's earnings will drop by more than 100 percent in the first quarter year-over-year. They are projecting a 103.8 percent year-over-year decline, because the sector is now expected to report an aggregate loss of $485 million for the quarter, compared to year-ago earnings of $12.9 billion.
The biggest forecasted winner is the Telecom sector, which is expected to have earnings growth of 13.2 percent. But that's skewed a bit, because the merging companies of AT&T and DirecTV are being compared to just AT&T from a year ago. Excluding that merger, the estimated earnings growth rate for the Telecom sector would fall to 1.5 percent.
That would give the Consumer Discretionary sector the highest projected earnings growth, at 10.0 percent. The strongest areas within this sector are internet retail, projected to have 81 percent earnings growth, and automobile manufacturers, projected at 49 percent.