In this regular series, we'll take a look back at the current earnings season and preview what's to come for the week ahead.

A look back and ahead
According to Capital IQ, an institutional data provider, here are just some of the highlights so far:

  • Since earnings season unofficially began on April 11, 470 companies have reported from the S&P 500, and 70% of those companies have beaten analyst expectations.
  • On the whole, though, the S&P 500 has reported a negative EPS surprise of -1.9%.
  • The sectors with the best numbers include health care, with a 12.8% boost; consumer discretionary, 11.0%; and financials, 10.7%.
  • One of the biggest winners: Equity Residential (NYSE: EQR), with a 370% surprise.
  • One of the biggest losers:  Sunoco (NYSE: SUN), at -4,425%.

Sector

Above

Match

Below

Surprise

Reported

Index

Consumer Discretionary 67% 3% 30% 11% 70 79
Consumer Staples 58% 11% 31% 8.5% 36 41
Energy 68% 5% 28% (99.4%) 40 41
Financials 64% 4% 32% 10.7% 78 81
Health Care 88% 4% 8% 12.8% 52 52
Industrials 74% 0% 26% 2% 58 59
Information Technology 78% 3% 19% 7.9% 68 75
Materials 86% 0% 14% 5.7% 28 30
Telecom 38% 25% 38% 0.0% 8 9
Utilities 44% 9% 47% (7.3%) 32 33
S&P 500 70% 4% 26% (1.9%) 470 500

*Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.

Also according to Capital IQ, here are some of the highlights for the week ahead:

  • About 15 companies are expected to report earnings this week.
  • Key companies to watch: Walgreen (NYSE: WAG) is expected to report earnings of $0.63 per share; FedEx (NYSE: FDX), $1.73; Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL), $0.71; Red Hat (NYSE: RHT), $0.22; and Adobe Systems (Nasdaq: ADBE), $0.51.

The Foolish bottom line
If you're an investor in one of these stocks, you need to read the quarterly reports to see how the company is performing and check in on what management thinks about the current industry climate. Furthermore, if you're a serious investor, try to read the conference-call transcripts to get an even better idea of whether your stocks are good to hold, or whether you might want to toss them in the trash.

Worried about which stocks you should chuck from your portfolio and which ones should stay? Read " Toss These 3 Stocks Out With the Trash ."

Jordan DiPietro owns no shares of the companies mentioned here. The Motley Fool owns shares of FedEx and Oracle. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of FedEx and Adobe Systems and creating a diagonal call position in Adobe Systems. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't 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.