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Data from StreetAccount clearly shows that the big upside in preannounced earnings we have seen in previous quarters is slowing dramatically. 

We are now getting into the thick of the 3Q10 earnings season and much rests on continued improvement in corporate earnings.

With all the noise around QE and M&A rumors, it is possible that the market is being less attentive to companies’ financial performance than it has in prior quarters.  While to me it appears there is a disconnect between the top-down Macro headwinds and market sentiment, eventually corporate earnings will reflect the reality of the current economic environment.  Given the run that stocks have had over the past few weeks, a downside disappointment in corporate earnings could have serious ramifications. 

The data provided by Street account showed that the 3Q10 preannouncement season was a quiet one with only 143 revisions compared to the 165 and 169 seen in the 1Q10 and 2Q10, respectively.  The ratio of positive to negative announcements for 3Q10 is at 1.1-to-1.  As is evident in the chart below, 3Q’s current ratio is part of a continuing decline from the peak of 2.9-to-1 seen in 4Q09.

Along with the slowdown in the preannouncement season, we are seeing analysts being to get more cautious on 2011.  According to Bloomberg, estimates for 2011 S&P 500 profit fell to $95.17 last month, from an August high of $96.16, and posted the first quarterly reduction since the three months ended June 2009.  The decline came as the S&P 500 rose 8.8% in September (the biggest advance since 1939).

Howard Penney

Managing Director