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Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange on Feb. 1, 2024.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

Here’s how big of a surprise corporate profits have been this earnings season: The fourth quarter is now shaping up to be the best of 2023.

Despite ongoing macroeconomic concerns that have hampered demand and weighed on consumer sentiment, almost halfway into earnings season, profits are clearly coming in far better than anybody expected.

Helping companies’ bottom lines this round: easing input costs, more emphasis on cost controls and efficiencies and significantly reduced expectations.

A plethora of significant earnings beats among some very important S&P 500 companies such as Amazon, Meta, Apple, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb have moved the Q4 growth rate notably higher late this week.

LSEG, formerly Refinitiv, is now seeing a nearly 8% rise in earnings growth this season. That’s far better than the 4.7% expected just three weeks ago, right before the big banks reported results.

Stronger-than-expected results from three sectors are particularly notable:

  • Energy – 90% of the companies have beat earnings estimates, with profits coming in almost 14% above expectations.
  • Health care – 85% have beat on the bottom line, with earnings coming in nearly 11% above expectations.
  • Tech – 84% have posted earnings beats, with earnings more than 5% above expectations.

As for the S&P 500 as a whole, Q4’s current earnings per share growth rate of 7.8% exceeds the 7.5% growth seen in all of Q3 — and is now tops for the year.

Currently, 80% of S&P 500 earnings results have beat estimates, slightly higher than normal trends, and earnings have come in more than 6% above expectations — not quite the 7% to 8% upside seen in the previous two quarters, but still a very strong number.

One very important caveat: These strong figures come after earnings expectations tumbled going into the reporting season. Back on Oct. 1, S&P 500 fourth-quarter earnings were expected to grow 11% year over year, according to LSEG.

Although the earnings picture has significantly improved since the start of 2024, results are still far below what Wall Street had hoped for a mere four months ago.

As good as fourth-quarter results have been, there’s still no positive momentum looking forward. Both first-quarter and full-year 2024 earnings estimates have come down since Jan. 1 as many companies have issued cautious guidance this earnings season.

— Charts by CNBC’s Gabriel Cortes.

Don’t miss these stories from CNBC PRO:

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Italy is putting a big hybrid floating solar–floating wind farm in the sea

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Italy is putting a big hybrid floating solar–floating wind farm in the sea

A 540-megawatt (MW) hybrid floating solar–floating wind farm is going to be developed off Italy’s southern coast, in the Ionian Sea.

Dutch-Norwegian offshore solar company SolarDuck, Italian investment fund Arrow Capital, and Italian developer New Developments are jointly developing the Corigliano project, which will be in the Gulf of Taranto off the Calabrian coast of Corigliano-Rossano:

SolarDuck is a spin-off of Damen Shipyards, a major shipbuilder in the Netherlands. It’s tapped into that knowledge to design elevated solar platforms made of offshore-grade aluminum that sit 10 feet (3 meters) off the water to withstand rough waters. The elevation also reduces salt deposits on the solar panels. (Floating solar farms on lakes and ponds tend to sit directly on the water.)

The triangular floating platforms are modular, so they can be connected to form large plants. Plus, the platforms have slip-resistant walkways and fences for access and maintenance.

The hybrid floating solar–floating wind farm will feature 420 MW of offshore wind and 120 MW of floating solar. It will have 28 floating wind turbines, but SolarDuck’s announcement doesn’t indicate who is developing them. We’ve reached out to SolarDuck for details and will update when we hear back.

The Corigliano hybrid floating project is expected to come online in 2028.

SolarDuck is running an up to three-year 5 MW pilot with multinational energy company RWE in the North Sea, 7.5 miles (12 km) from The Hague’s Dutch coast. In December, it secured €15 million in funding, and it’s going to install Japan’s first offshore floating wind farm.  

Read more: World’s first semi-submersible floating offshore wind farm beats expectations in the face of extreme storms


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Doroni unveils production-intent H1-X eVTOL, offering personal air travel up to 120 mph [Video]

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Doroni unveils production-intent H1-X eVTOL, offering personal air travel up to 120 mph [Video]

Young urban air mobility (UAM) developer Doroni Aerospace is stepping out of the shadows and into the eVTOL startup with the official reveal of its flagship aircraft – the H1-X. The two-seat eVTOL was showcased during a livestream event today and is damn close to being market-ready, touting some impressive specs.

Doroni Aerospace was founded in 2016 by Doron Merdinger – a lifelong entrepreneur with 25 years of design, manufacturing, and firm management expertise.

To bring his dreams of sustainable aviation transportation to life, Merdinger assembled a team of engineers and technicians working together to democratize flight in a growing eVTOL segment.

The result of those efforts is the HX-1, Doroni’s flagship “flying car,” better known as an electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) vehicle. After years of development behind the scenes, which we at Electrek have kept close tabs on, Doroni has finally revealed the H1-X to the public, which looks pretty cool. Have a look for yourself.

  • Doroni eVTOL

Doroni hard launches with production-intent eVTOL

The eVTOL startup shared many details of the H1-X earlier today during a livestream event you can view below. While Doroni’s flagship aircraft is an eVTOL through and through, its design and use vary from several of its competitors in development.

For instance, Doroni designed the H1-X as a two-seat personal aircraft rather than the larger cabins designed for air taxi services many other companies are working on. The H1-X also features a unique tandem wing configuration, with propellers built in (less risk of decapitation!)

The company says this design feature enhances the eVTOL’s lift and efficiency compared to traditional designs, and its wing fences can better manage airflow. The ducted fans are also quieter, even when the eVTOL’s eight electric motors are revving. Doroni’s CEO spoke during the eVTOL launch event:

The H1-X is not just a vehicle; it’s a leap toward a future where freedom of movement and sustainability coexist. Our dedication to innovation, safety, and the environment is embodied in every aspect of the H1-X, marking a new chapter in transportation.

Doroni shared that the H1-X weighs 1,850 pounds, can haul a payload capacity of 500 pounds, and can fly for 40 minutes on a single charge. What’s most interesting is that the incoming eVTOL can reach a top speed of 120 mph! Hopefully, Doroni will aid in training and certifying its future owners because that’s a lot of speed for the average person.

Representatives for Doroni Aerospace told Electrek that the first several examples of the H1-X eVTOLs are currently being built and will be used for extensive test flights at the end of the year. That being said, we were told the aircraft you see below is the go-to-market product, although there may be some minor tweaks before scaled production.

The H1-X has already received FAA certification for flightworthiness in the US and is expected to enter mass production in 2026. Each eVTOL is expected to cost between $300,000 and $400,000. You can learn more from the replay of the entire reveal event below:

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Fisker is talking to Nissan for a lifeline and electric pickup partnership

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Fisker is talking to Nissan for a lifeline and electric pickup partnership

Nissan has been revealed as the potential savior of Fisker. The Japanese automaker is reportedly talking with Fisker to invest in the company and partner on electric pickup trucks.

Earlier today, we reported on Fisker’s disastrous fourth-quarter results showing that the electric vehicle startup lost $400 million in 2023 and it now has less than $400 million of cash on hands.

The automaker had to admit that it wouldn’t be able to continue operations past next year without a big cash injection.

It did reveal that it was talking to a “large automaker” about an investment that could save the company.

Now, Reuters reported that the automaker in question is Nissan:

Nissan is in advanced talks to invest in electric vehicle maker Fisker (FSR.N), in a deal that could provide the Japanese automaker with access to an electric pickup truck while giving the struggling startup a financial lifeline, according to two people familiar with the negotiations.

The deal would reportedly involve Nissan investing $400 million in Fisker. It would also involve Nissan building the Alaska pickup truck unveiled by Fisker last year at one of its US plants.

On top of it, Nissan could use the Alaska platform to build its own electric pickup truck.

Neither Nissan nor Fisker commented on the report.

Fisker’s stock dropped by more than 50% today after the release of its earnings, but the stock recovered a bit after the report that Nissan is considering investing.

The stock currently trades at a valuation of $295 million.

Electrek’s Take

I’m not sure what to think about it. I’ve never been a big fan of Fisker, and I’ve warned people about investing in the company before.

If the report is true, I don’t know what Nissan sees in this. If they are behind on developing electric pickup trucks, it might be worth it for them, but I think that any significant investment would be a takeover the company.

It is now worth less than $300 million and that might be an attractive investment as a company that had $200 million in revenue last quarter in the growing EV market, but the looks are deceiving.

As I’ve highlighted before, Fisker was desperate in its previous fundraising efforts and took big convertible notes, which now add up to $1.2 billion, according to its last SEC filing.

Currently, there’s just no way Fisker can manage to pay that back and therefore, they will convert to stock and drastically dilute it for current shareholders.

So I don’t see a good outcome here other than Nissan picking the whole company up for cheap and accelerating its EV programs with it.

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.

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