A window into the inner workings of the economy will open over the next few weeks when a slew of mostly interim company results hits the market.
Retirement village company Oceania is set to get the ball rolling today with its first-half result, but most of the big guns are due to report their interims in February.
On top of how they fared for the six months to December, companies' individual business outlooks will be keenly examined for clues as to how they are likely to perform for the rest of the year.
Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners, said first-half results will provide a window into how the economy is doing.
"You can look at all the data points — inflation, GDP, employment and the business surveys — but corporate earnings, in particular the earnings outlook statements, is one of the best leading indicators because it is real-time information," he said.
Analysts expect the season to reflect steady earnings, but with conditions attached.
"I'm still upbeat on the local economy — and most our companies are in reasonable shape," Lister says.
Harbour Asset Management has a positive view on equity market profit growth, given the economy is still expanding, but it says the rate of growth is slowing.
"Overall we will be watching for comments about the risks around slowing revenue growth as a result of softening local and global economic activity," Harbour portfolio manager Shane Solly said.
"Any impact from and how companies are approaching the China-US trade wars and Brexit process may influence near-term earnings expectations."
Investors will be looking for evidence of rising cost pressures, particularly from wages, and whether companies can recover these costs in the form of higher prices.
Then there is the likely impact of possible changes to Government regulations, given the raft of industry reviews covering telecommunications, petrol, dairy and banking that are under way.
The market will be looking at interim results from Contact Energy, Meridian, Mercury and Genesis, to see whether the big power companies have converted a positive generating environment to bottom line profits.
Fletcher Building, which finished last year on a strongly positive note after announcing the sale of its US unit, Formica, for US$840 million ($1.2b), is due to report on February 20.
Solly said the market will want to see how Fletcher's business repositioning is progressing and whether its earnings will be affected by the Australian property downturn.
Then there is the issue of what the company does with its recharged balance sheet, post Formica.
The high-profile a2 Milk will report its first-half result late in February.
The company's revenue for the four months came to $368.4m, up 40.5 per cent over the same period last year, which was at the top end of market expectations.
The company turned in a net profit after tax of $195.7m in the June year, up 116 per cent over the previous years.
A2 Milk said it expected strong revenue growth to continue, but at a slightly more moderate rate than in the first four months.
It's looking like it will be Trade Me's last first-half result before it gets taken over by private equity company Apax.
But the market will still be looking for hints of a cyclical slowing in activity in markets such as vehicles and residential property.
Sky City investors will be looking at New Zealand trading to see if a slowing economy is impacting on international and domestic visitation, how Adelaide is progressing, and if the company looks to make acquisitions.
Results from Summerset, Metlifecare and Oceania will be closely watched as to what a slowing residential market means for them.
"All three stocks have been relatively weak performers in anticipation of a slowing residential market reducing the ability of potential residents to move in to retirement and care villages," Harbour's Solly said.
After downgrading sales forecasts for a softer December quarter, investors will be watching closely to see the impact on retailer Kathmandu's underlying profitability.
What's coming up:
• Oceania half year
• Contact Energy half year
• Sky City half year
• Skellerup half year
• NZX full year
• Property for Industry
• HGH half year
• HBL half year
• PCT half year
• Fletcher half year
• Meridain half year
• AIA half year
• Summerset full year
• Chorus half year
• Freightways half year
• Metlifecare half year
• Comvita half year
• Mercury half year
• Tourism Holdings
• Vistal Group full year
• PGG Wrightson half year
• TGG Global full year
• Genesis half year
• Trade Me half year
• A2 Milk expected
• Kathmandu full year