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Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

A record number of S&P 500 companies have said their second-quarter earnings would be better than what analysts expect.

Why it matters: Companies provide guidance, or their projection for their financial performance, so that the market isn’t too surprised when they announce actual results.

  • However, they risk disappointing investors and triggering a stock selloff if those actual results ultimately fall short.

By the numbers: A company’s guidance is considered positive if it is higher than the median analyst’s estimate for the metric.

  • Of the S&P 500 companies, 103 offered Q2 earnings guidance, according to FactSet data.
  • A record 66 of these companies provided positive guidance.

Flashback: In Q2 of 2020 during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, just 53 companies offered any kind of guidance due to lack of visibility as the economic lockdown was totally unprecedented.

What they’re saying: The fact that a record number of companies are issuing positive guidance confirms Wall Street continues to be too conservative about earnings prospects, DataTrek Research’s Nicholas Colas wrote in an email on Monday.

  • Earnings have been driving the rally over the past year, and if expectations for positive outcomes are still going up, it seems to be reason enough for stocks to keep following suit.

What to watch: Companies will start announcing their actual results in two or three weeks.

  • "Q2 2021 earnings season needs to show real upside to Wall Street expectations to keep the current US bull market on track, and the last 2 weeks’ ‘guidance season’ confirms that it should," Colas wrote.

Go deeper

Sep 8, 2021 - Health

Humana says pandemic is slowing routine care again

Humana is seeing dips in non-COVID care again. Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Humana has recorded more COVID-19 hospitalizations among its Medicare Advantage members in the past few weeks due to rising coronavirus cases. But non-COVID inpatient and outpatient care also appears to be declining as a result, the health insurance company said late Tuesday.

Why it matters: Health insurers profited heavily last year when hospitals and doctors delayed routine medical care, and that dynamic appears to be happening again.

GOP Rep. Gonzalez retires in face of Trump-backed primary

Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R) Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R) announced his retirement on Thursday, declining to run against a Trump-backed primary challenger in 2022.

Why it matters: Gonzalez has suffered politically since siding with House Democrats to impeach the 45th president after the Capitol riot.

Swing voters oppose Texas abortion law

Protesters at a rally at the Texas State Capitol. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

All 10 swing voters in Axios’ latest focus groups — including those who described themselves as "pro-life" — said they oppose Texas' new anti-abortion law.

Why it matters: If their responses reflect larger patterns in U.S. society, this could hurt Republicans with women and independents in next year's midterm elections. The swing voters cited overreach, invasion of privacy and concerns about frivolous lawsuits jamming up the courts.