Earnings season will likely surprise investors and hit a popular trade, Art Hogan warns

National Securities’ Art Hogan predicts third-quarter earnings results will exceed expectations.

However, his forecast leaves out a crowded area of the market.

“I’m nervous about the defensive groups actually because they’re such a popular trade,” the firm’s chief market strategist told CNBC’s “Trading Nation” on Monday. “The multiples for some of those consumer staples and utilities and real estate investment trusts are really high.”

As global slowdown risks rose this year, so did the defensive trade’s popularity. Investors assume they’re more protected from downside by buying stocks that are known to provide dividends and stable earnings.

However, as big money piled into defensive names, valuations began surging. Hogan believes they have no capability of growing with the multiples given by investors.

“There’s a level of disappointment that probably comes,” added Hogan, who’s responsible for $15 billion in assets under management. “Earnings and multiples are going to disappoint as we work our way through earnings season.”

He speculates that the more economically sensitive areas of the stock market will surprise investors and emerge as the big winners this season.

“The expectation set is so low coming into this earnings season because of the macro news. It doesn’t necessarily fit the earnings picture,” said Hogan.

Refinitiv data shows a 3.2% drop in earnings per share in the third quarter. That number will change as companies report their quarterly results.

Hogan expects technology, particularly software and momentum names, and consumer discretionary companies will deliver the most upside.

“There are certain brand leaders in the consumer discretionary space that are probably going to outperform,” said Hogan, who doesn’t see evidence that U.S.-China trade war tariffs are challenging consumers right now.

Hogan’s year-end S&P 500 price target is 4.5% higher the current levels.

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