Feb 8, 2021 - Economy

S&P companies overall on pace for positive earnings for first time since 2019

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Traders work after the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on August 15, 2019. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

Fourth-quarter earnings have been far better than expected for S&P 500 companies, with the index overall reporting year-over-year earnings growth of 1.7% as of Friday.

Details: The expected earnings of the index have increased consistently. Analysts had predicted a year-over-year decline in earnings of -2.4% last week and a year-over-year decline in earnings of -9.3% at the end of the fourth quarter, according to FactSet senior earnings analyst John Butters.

  • If 1.7% is the actual growth rate for the fourth quarter, it will mark the first time the index has reported year-over-year growth in earnings since the fourth quarter of 2019.
  • So far, 81% of S&P companies have reported a positive EPS surprise for Q4, on pace for the second-highest percentage of positive reporting surprises since FactSet began tracking this metric in 2008.
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