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Earnings in U.S. Middle Market Grew by 12.8% in Q4 2017, Report

January 15, 2018, 07:20 AM
Filed Under: Economic Commentary

Middle market private companies in the Golub Capital Altman Index experienced year-over-year earnings growth of 12.8% and revenue growth of 11.5% during the first two months of the fourth quarter of 2017. This compares to year-over-year earnings growth of 4.9% and revenue growth of 6.8% in the third quarter of 2017.

Lawrence E. Golub, CEO of Golub Capital, said, "Middle market companies had an outstanding fourth quarter of 2017, building on the strong performance we saw in the third quarter. Revenue and earnings accelerated to the fastest rates of year-over-year growth since inception of the Golub Capital Altman Index. The fourth quarter's robust growth was accompanied by profit margin expansion, which suggests that the U.S. economy has strong momentum going into 2018."

Dr. Edward I. Altman said, "The data shows improved company performance in all sectors. The Technology sector, strong throughout the year, had median earnings growth of nearly 30% year-over-year. The Consumer and Industrials sectors continued to rebound since the lackluster first quarter of 2017. Even the Healthcare sector, which has struggled with profitability, ended a five-quarter streak of declining earnings."

"In 2017, the Golub Capital Middle Market Report provided important value to the investment community by flagging major trend changes in earnings growth rates and sector performance," said Golub. "We reported accelerating revenue growth in Q1 and accelerating earnings growth in Q2 and Q3, each of which were followed by favorable earnings surprises from public companies. When we published our Q2 and Q3 reports, we discussed that GDP growth seemed to be exceeding consensus forecasts, with GDP growing at or above 3%, and we were right. We highlighted the strength of the Technology sector throughout the year and identified rebounds in the Consumer and Industrials sectors. We expect the Golub Capital Middle Market Report to continue to provide early insight into economic trends."

The Golub Capital Altman Index ("GCAI"), which is produced by Golub Capital in collaboration with renowned credit expert Dr. Edward I. Altman, is the first and only index based on actual revenue and earnings (defined as earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or "EBITDA") for middle market companies. It measures the median revenue and earnings growth of more than 150 private U.S. companies in the loan portfolio of Golub Capital, a leading middle market lender. Reported shortly before public company quarterly earnings season, the GCAI has served as a reliable indicator of the overall growth rates in revenue and earnings of public companies in market indexes such as the S&P 500 and S&P SmallCap 600 ("S&P 600"), as well as quarterly Gross Domestic Product ("GDP"), according to statistical back-testing dating back to 2012, when data began to be tracked.

The size and diversity of the Golub Capital loan portfolio ensure that the confidentiality of all company-specific information used in the index is maintained in both the aggregate and industry segment data.

We believe the results (1) are representative of the general performance of middle market companies, which are a major contributor to U.S. private sector employment; (2) can be easily compared to the performance of the public companies that make up major stock indexes; (3) are relevant to the aggregate economic performance of the U.S. economy and (4) provide timely information for the investment community.

The companies in the GCAI operate in a wide range of industries. Results are provided for the total universe of GCAI constituents and by industry segment. Given the index's limited exposure to Financials, Utilities, Energy and Materials, comparisons are made to the S&P 500 and S&P 600 as well as to "adjusted" versions of those indexes that exclude the aforementioned sectors.

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