On October 8th, earnings season officially kicks off with Alcoa reporting after the bell. Thousands more companies will follow in the coming weeks. After September’s poor market results — only the fifth month with a negative return in the past 21 months — investors will look to see how companies are coping with the macroeconomic environment.
The street is expecting operating earnings per share for the S&P 500 to grow this quarter by about 11.2% compared to the third quarter of 2013. With only three months remaining in the fiscal year, analysts expect 10.8% earnings growth over 2013’s results. Next year, the expectation is to see 14.4% earnings growth over 2014.
Concern continues to permeate columns and blogs that the market is overbought. Some commentators have predicted that a 20% decline is on the horizon. Having reached the 2,020 level intraday on September 19, the S&P 500 has appreciated by almost 200% since March 6, 2009. However, even this extravagant market appreciation has been entirely justified by earnings growth. Earnings drive the market’s long-term direction, and as shown in the chart below, earnings explain the S&P performance. Emotion drives day-to-day movements.
With corporate earnings expected to hit a new record in 2015, absent emotion, this bull market should follow the same direction: Up.