LONDON (Reuters) - Revenue at Europe's largest companies is expected to have risen by just 0.9% in the fourth quarter, Refinitiv I/B/E/S data showed on Tuesday, down from 27.4% in the third quarter and the slowest growth rate since the fourth quarter of 2020.
The forecast, which tracks companies listed on the pan-European STOXX 600 benchmark index, represents a drop from last week when analysts expected revenue growth of 4%.
Earnings for STOXX 600 companies are expected to have increased 9.5% in the fourth quarter, down from 10.7% a week ago, Refinitiv I/B/E/S said.
When results from the energy sector are excluded, Refinitiv I/B/E/S said earnings were expected to have increased by 4.6% and revenue by just 0.3% in the final three months of the year.
Europe's earnings season kicks into gear next week, with 56 companies expected to announce their fourth quarter results, including Italian bank UniCredit, Irish airline Ryanair, and pharmaceutical companies GSK and Novartis.
Analysts said the upcoming earnings season will likely show whether the renewed optimism about the economy that has buoyed equities in recent weeks is grounded in reality.
The STOXX 600 is up over 6.5% so far in 2023 and on track for its best performance in the month of January since 2015.
To date, eight companies in the benchmark index have reported earnings, with 25% exceeding analysts estimates, versus a typical quarter, when 53% beat estimates, Refinitiv I/B/E/S said.
Nine firms have reported revenue, with 77.8% beating expectations, compared to a typical quarter when 58% beat estimates.
(Reporting by Samuel Indyk; Editing by Amanda Cooper)