Today Southwest Airlines and Sherwin-Williams both said revenue would be lower because of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

They join a growing list of companies affected in one way or another by the storms:

Hurricane Impact on Earnings

Southwest Airlines: lowered Q3 revs.
Sherwin-Williams: cut Q3 guidance
Carnival Cruise Line: cut Q4 EPS
DR Horton: cut Q4 guidance
CarMax: closed six Houston stores for week
AutoZone: closed 600 stores
FedEx: $0.02 hit to earnings
Cintas: $0.05-$0.08 hit to 2018 EPS

Other companies — including Sysco, Marriott, Newell Brands, and Gap — have also mentioned their operations were partly affected by the hurricanes.

Harvey alone may have caused up to $108 billion in damages, according to initial estimates from Moody’s Analytics. A recent CNBC analysis revealed that all the big hurricanes live on in earnings commentary for several quarters following their landfall in the U.S.

Here’s the key question: Are these warnings as a whole enough to materially affect S&P 500 earnings expectations for the third and fourth quarters?

The short answer: It’s not entirely clear yet, because many companies may wait until their earnings are released before commenting.

However, based on the data so far, David Aurelio, who tracks S&P 500 earnings as senior research analyst at Thomson Reuters, told me “the overall impact appears to be minimal” on S&P earnings.

He hedged by saying he was waiting for more clarification on losses from insurance companies, and that there will likely be additional comments from retailers and other airlines.

Still, the preliminary data is a relief to market watchers. S&P earnings have been on an upswing since the fourth quarter of 2016, after a year and a half of declines. That down period — from mid-2015 into 2016 — saw the S&P 500 drop more than 15 percent until recovering in mid-2016.

The markets have remained in record territory largely because traders continue to believe that earnings are still growing and not peaking out. A strong economy, coupled with the prospects of tax cuts, are the key to earnings growth into 2018.

And now some analysts think the rebuilding efforts may provide an additional benefit.

Christine Short, who follows earnings for Estimize, is one of them. “You do potentially have the strength of some of the machinery names (Caterpillar, Deere) and home improvement retailers (Home Depot, Lowe’s) to offset, but still need to consider how the disruption in service/property destruction impacted those companies as well,” she wrote in an email to me.

There may already be signs of a rebound. There are strong indications auto sales may soon increase. That’s according to Eric Ross, chief investment strategist at Cascend Securities. He uses a proprietary model that measures consumer demand by monitoring what people are searching for on major websites, looking for specific phrases that identify people who are online to make a purchase of cars.

His concluded that growth in auto demand doubled in mid-September.

“I am pretty confident there will be an uptick in car sales in the next three to six months,” Ross told me, noting that his model typically predates the actual purchase of cars between three and six months.

Ross noted that there was an increase in new car buying over the summer, even before the hurricanes, but it has notably picked up since. His firm upgraded the entire automotive sector in July.

Edmunds, which tracks car sales, also is optimistic.

“We anticipate that the recovery from the recent hurricanes will give vehicle sales an incremental boost in September, and will likely continue to slightly lift the market in the months to come,” Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds executive director of industry analysis, said yesterday. “When you have hundreds of thousands of people affected by an event of this magnitude, not everyone will hit the market at once.”

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