Global Investing

from Jeremy Gaunt:

Wishful thinking on earnings?

The U.S. earnings season is over bar a handful of firms. It has been robust to say the least: Thomson Reuters Proprietary Research calculates that S&P 500 companies overall had second-quarter earnings growth of 38.4 percent. That was 11 percentage points higher than people had been expecting heading into the season.

There may be more surprises ahead -- although which sort, remains in question. The research suggests that analysts still expect solid growth in the coming quarters and that the decline in U.S. economic strength over the summer has not changed their minds much.

Third-quarter earnings growth is estimated at 24.9 percent, down slightly from July estimates but higher than earlier in the year. Fourth-quarter estimates are at 31.8 percent.

It is only when you get into 2011 that you start seeing some pull back. But even then Q1 is seen coming in at 11.8 percent.

Is this wishful thinking, or are analysts persuaded that the U.S. slump is only transitory?

EarningsOutlook: If estimates hold, Q3 could see first earnings growth since Q2 2007

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At this time, the estimated growth rate for the third quarter 2008 stands at 0.8%. On April 1, the estimated growth rate for third quarter 2008 was 17.3%. On July 1, the estimated growth rate was 12.6%.

If the final growth rate for third quarter 2008 is 0.8%, it will mark the first quarter the S&P 500 has recorded earnings growth since the second quarter of 2007 (7.7%).

Since the start of the quarter, most of the decrease in the third quarter 2008 growth rate (to 0.8% from 12.6%) can be attributed to downward estimate revisions in the Financials sector.