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Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

In 2019, Wall Street’s forecasters had high hopes for 2021 earnings. But when the pandemic hit, those expectations collapsed. The recovery has now brought expectations back to pre-pandemic levels.

Why it matters: Expected earnings are the key driver of stock prices in the long run.

By the numbers: Back in August 2019, analysts estimated that S&P 500 earnings per share would rise to $198 in 2021, according to FactSet.

  • They revised those estimates down to a low of about $161 in June 2020.
  • As of Aug. 5, that estimate returned to $198.08.

The big picture: Unfortunately, it’s incredibly difficult to accurately predict the future. Even when they’re looking six months out, Wall Street’s professional forecasters are often off target.

The bottom line: There’s a reason better-than-expected earnings are called an earnings "surprise."

Go deeper

Oct 25, 2021 - Technology

Facebook beats earnings, but misses on revenue

Photo illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images

Facebook's stock jumped marginally in after-hours trading Monday after the company beat Wall Street expectations on earnings per share but missed estimates on revenue.

Between the lines: Facebook warned investors last month that changes to Apple’s privacy rules would weigh on its business, and that warning helped the company dodge a big stock slide today.

Facebook's pivotal week

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

They're battening down the hatches at Facebook headquarters this week as the company faces a trifecta of tumult: a continuing wave of negative press coverage fueled by document leaks, a critical earnings report Monday and a reported name change looming.

The big picture: All this is unfolding as Mark Zuckerberg tries to transform Facebook from a social network into the prime mover behind a new "metaverse" of VR- and AR-driven remote work and play.

The startup that wants to disrupt big internet providers

Maura Losch/Axios

A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case and Laurene Powell Jobs wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country.

Why it matters: Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country.