With results from almost 90% of the S&P 500 companies already out, the Q4 earnings season is effectively now in the rearview mirror. Total earnings for the quarter are up +6.3% on +1.5% higher revenues, with 68.8% beating EPS estimates and 57% coming ahead of revenue estimates. The growth rates and beat ratios are about in-line with what we have been seeing in other recent quarters, though revenues are on the weak side.
There were a number of moving parts below the aggregate numbers, with extremely weak results from Energy sector dragging the growth numbers down and Apple's (AAPL) blockbuster report working in the opposite direction. The sharp decline in oil prices has been widely discussed topic lately, though the sector's woes had a bearing beyond the Energy space, as Caterpillar's (CAT) report showed.
All in all, the Q4 results themselves aren't bad, with total earnings for the quarter on track to reach a new quarterly record. But the outlook for the current and coming quarters has received a severe beating lately, with growth estimates for the first half of 2015 changing from positive a couple of months back to outright negative at present. In fact, pretty much all of the growth expectations for full year 2015 have now disappeared and been pushed into 2016.
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