NEW YORK – U.S. investors are getting ready to beat the heat after a feast of better-than-expected second-quarter earnings and strong outlooks.
Still, lackluster July retail sales and crude's move to new highs may be a nagging worry as Wall Street retreats for the summer.
Second-quarter earnings growth expectations for Standard & Poor's 500 (search) companies now stand at 11.7 percent, while revenue growth is estimated at 8.7 percent. The second quarter of 2005 is poised to become the 13th straight quarter to show earnings growth of more than 10 percent.
Overall, preannouncement activity is also proving to be upbeat with 565 companies posting positive outlooks in July and August so far, versus 426 negative forecasts during the same period.
Among companies offering strong outlooks this week were technology services company Electronic Data Systems Corp. (EDS) and pharmacy benefits manager Caremark Rx Inc. .
But disappointments included diversified manufacturer Tyco International Ltd. (TYC), which cut its outlook for the year, and Time Warner Inc. (TWX), after the world's largest media company posted earnings below expectations.
"We saw a pretty strong earnings season and a lot of companies reported to the upside," said John O'Brien, head of trading at KeyBanc Capital.
Of the 436 Standard & Poor's 500 companies that have reported so far, 304 have beaten analysts' expectations, more than four times the number of companies that missed estimates.
"But we saw some disappointing same-store comps, which is worrying," O'Brien added. "Also, oil prices heading back up is a concern."
Nearly 60 percent of the July sales reports released Thursday from the retail chains came in below market forecasts.
Retail sales are a broadly watched measure of consumer spending, which represents a bulk of U.S. economic activity.
Friday, crude oil for September delivery settled at $62.31 a barrel, up 93 cents, and not far below the record $62.50 hit on Wednesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange (search). Problems at several refineries stirred concerns about supply.
Higher oil prices are considered bad for corporate profits because they raise energy costs and curb consumer spending.