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

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

  • Since earnings unofficially began on April 11, 485 companies have reported from the S&P 500, and 70% of those companies have beaten the Street's expectations.
  • As a whole, the S&P 500 has reported a negative EPS surprise of -1.4%.
  • The sectors with the best numbers include financials with a 13% surprise, health care with a 12.8% surprise, and consumer discretionary with an 11.5% surprise.
  • One of the quarter's biggest winners: Boston Scientific (NYSE: BSX), with a 283% surprise.
  • One of the quarter's biggest losers: Sunoco, with a -4,425% surprise.
  • Last week's highlights: Walgreen (NYSE: WAG) reported earnings of $0.65 per share, above analyst expectations of $0.63 and about 20% above last year's quarterly report. Gross margins and revenues were also up for the company. CarMax (NYSE: KMX) also beat expectations of $0.48 per share when it reported earnings of $0.55, a really solid 15% surprise.

Sector

Above

Match

Below

Surprise

Reported

Index

Consumer Discretionary

69%

3%

28%

11.5%

75

79

Consumer Staples

58%

11%

32%

8.1%

38

41

Energy

66%

5%

29%

(98.0%)

41

41

Financials

64%

4%

32%

13.0%

78

81

Health Care

88%

4%

8%

12.8%

52

52

Industrials

73%

2%

25%

2.2%

59

59

Information Technology

78%

3%

19%

6.8%

74

75

Materials

86%

0%

14%

5.7%

28

30

Telecom

38%

25%

38%

0%

8

9

Utilities

44%

9%

47%

(7.3%)

32

33

S&P 500

70%

4%

26%

(1.4%)

485

500

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

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

  • About eight companies are expected to report earnings this week.
  • Key companies to watch: Nike (NYSE: NKE) is expected to report earnings of $1.16 per share; General Mills (NYSE: GIS), $0.52; McCormick (NYSE: MKC), $0.54; and Darden Restaurants (NYSE: DRI), $1.00.

The Foolish bottom line
If you're an investor in one these stocks, it's important to read the quarterly reports to see how the company is performing and to see 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 they should possibly be tossed 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. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Nike and McCormick, as well as creating a diagonal call position in Nike. 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.