Slower Earnings Growth in 2019?

February 21, 2019 | Nat Kellogg, CFA, Director of Manager Search, Managing Partner

Slower Earnings Growth in 2019 chart displaying effects of 2018's tax cuts -- that is, strong growth in corporate earnings

With the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (“TCJA”) now a little over a year old, this week’s chart looks at the effect of the tax cut on companies in the S&P 500. Despite a headline corporate tax rate of 35%, S&P companies in aggregate were paying an effective tax of only 25% over the twelve months leading up to the tax cut. Lowering the headline rate from 35% to 21% has clearly had an effect, as the tax rate for the S&P at the end of the third quarter was down to just 18.4% (a reduction of almost 27% year-over-year). This was one of the main drivers of strong growth in profits for U.S. companies, as the S&P 500 earnings growth peaked at 27% year-over-year in the third quarter (blue dotted line in the second chart). However, as we move into 2019 the positive effects on earnings growth from the tax cuts will fade, and corporate earnings growth in 2019 is likely to be significantly slower than what investors experienced in 2018, which could be a headwind for the equity market as the year progresses.

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The opinions expressed herein are those of Marquette Associates, Inc. (“Marquette”), and are subject to change without notice. This material is not financial advice or an offer to purchase or sell any product. Marquette reserves the right to modify its current investment strategies and techniques based on changing market dynamics or client needs.


Nat Kellogg, CFA
Director of Manager Search, Managing Partner

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