Fourth-quarter earnings season in Europe is still in its early days, but the largest companies on the Continent are mostly hitting their stride.
the maker of wildly popular weight-loss drugs, on Wednesday beat estimates and gave an outlook that suggested analysts will have to hike their outlooks further. LVMH Moet Hennessy
the luxury giant, reported faster-than-expected sales growth and surprising cost control. ASML Holding
the maker of microchip-making equipment, reported faster-than-expected order growth even as its exports are hamstrung by U.S.-China tech wars. SAP
the German database provider that is an arch-rival to Oracle, boosted its profit outlook.
There have been, of course, a few outliers — Novartis
for instance, disappointed — but it’s been a strong quarter for Europe’s leading companies.
If there’s one thing that weaves these disparate producers of injectable drugs, handbags and lithography systems is that none are dependent on Europe for sales.
More than half of Novo Nordisk’s sales came from the U.S., with all of Europe, the Middle East and Africa accounting for barely over 20%. LVMH’s regional breakdown is more balanced, though Europe’s 25% share is flattered by sales to Asian tourists visiting Paris. Just 4% of ASML’s shipments were to Europe, Middle East and Africa last year.
Granted, Europe’s largest companies have long adjusted to the Continent’s stagnant economy. That was brought into focus this week by data showing the eurozone economy grew by just 0.5% last year, compared to 2.5% in the U.S. Over a longer time frame, the U.S. economy has outgrown eurozone GDP by more than 20% since the century started.
According to Goldman Sachs, European earnings when weighted for market cap have surprised 2% to the upside. By contrast, an equal-weighted look at European earnings shows a 1% miss.
The smallest 200 of the Stoxx 600
have reported a 5% miss, which Goldman attributes in part to “high domestic exposure.”