Earnings Week One: The Need-to-Know Numbers

The Dow (INDEX: ^DJI  ) finished barely in the red today, eking out a 0.2% gain, and ending a four-day losing streak. Still, this week was the worst for the blue-chip index since June 1.

Week one of the third quarter earnings season is in the books. According to data provider FactSet, of the 32 companies of the broader S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC  ) that have so far reported earnings, 20, or 62.5%, have beaten estimates, which compares unfavorably with the 70% average over the prior four quarters, particularly when the proportion of companies that have so far come out with negative pre-announcements is the highest since FactSet began tracking this metric.

Financials are meant to be an area of strength this earnings season; in fact, the sector is the largest contributor to earnings growth for the index. Sure enough, two of the three largest weightings in the sector, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC  ) , reported earnings that beat estimates this morning. One worrying sign: Despite the 'beat,' and positive comments regarding the housing market from executives at both companies, investors were unimpressed. JPMorgan shares fell 1.1%, while Wells Fargo's declined 2.6%.

That sentiment spilled over onto Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) , which reports next Thursday: Shares of the Charlotte, NC lender fell 2.4%, in sympathy with its peers. (If you'd like to know whether the stock is a buy or a sell, you need to click here to read my colleague Anand Chokkavelu's premium report.)

Next week is the first full week of earnings season, with 12 of 30 Dow components, and 79 S&P 500 components reporting results. We'll be covering it. Enjoy the weekend, and Fool on!

Alex Dumortier, CFA has no positions in the stocks mentioned above; you can follow him on Twitter @longrunreturns. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Wells Fargo & Company. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Wells Fargo & Company. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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