Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast with great force this week. The Superstorm brought damaging winds and life threatening storm surges to several states, with President Obama signing major-disaster declarations for New Jersey and New York. More than 7 million homes and businesses are without power. The anticipation of the storm even brought the financial center of the world to a halt.
On Monday, New York Stock Exchange operator NYSE Euronext (NYSE:NYX) decided to close trading, the first time the Big Board had close due to weather since Hurricane Gloria in 1985. Other exchanges also followed suit, and the markets remained closed on Tuesday. It is the first time since 1888 that the stock exchange has been shutdown for two consecutive days for a weather issue. Hurricane Sandy has also made it difficult for many companies to report their quarterly earnings.
Several firms such as drug giant Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and power-plant operator NRG Energy (NYSE:NRG) have postponed their financial reporting due to the devastation caused by Sandy. Pfizer was originally scheduled to announce earnings on Tuesday, but has moved the event to Thursday. NRG Energy, which owns and operates one of the country’s largest and most diverse power generation portfolios, moved its earnings announcement from Wednesday to Friday, citing Hurricane Sandy and emergency conditions related to it.
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Entergy (NYSE:ETR) will be releasing its earnings on November 5, instead of Tuesday. “With many of our shareholders, financial analysts, employees and others living in and around the storm’s projected path, rescheduling our earnings call was an easy decision to make,” Entergy Chief Executive Wayne Leonard said in a statement. “We know firsthand the challenges, both personal and professional, associated with these storms, and the stress and distraction that uncertainty during these events can cause.”
On Tuesday, NYSE Euronext announced it will reopen for normal trading on Wednesday, along with the Nasdaq (NASDAQ:QQQ). “We are pleased to be able to return to normal trading tomorrow,” said Duncan Niederauer, CEO of NYSE Euronext, in a statement. “Our building and systems were not damaged and our people have been working diligently to ensure that we have a smooth opening tomorrow.”
It has been a mixed earnings season so far. Up until Monday, 60.7 percent of companies have beaten earnings estimates this season, which would be higher than the previous three quarters if it holds. However, only 44.8 percent of U.S. companies have beaten revenue estimates, representing the lowest amount since 2009, according to Bespoke Investment Group. Revenue is often seen as a better gauge of financial health than earnings, as there are fewer tricks to artificially improve the results.
Investor Insight: Don’t Look for Silver Linings in Hurricane Sandy