S&P 500 companies are expected to register an aggregate 13.9% operating earnings gain for the first quarter, which would mark the 16th consecutive quarter of year-over-year double-digit increase.
"With 88% of S&P 500 companies having reported, you can declare victory," said Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P. But the string of double-digit increases is likely to be broken in the second quarter, he said, with expected operating earnings growth of just 7.7% year-over-year for S&P 500 companies.
"It'll be the first single-digit gain in over four years, but it will also be the highest earnings ever," Mr. Silverblatt said of the expected second-quarter numbers. He added, however, that earnings growth would likely pick up again in the third and fourth quarters. The reasons for the anticipated second-quarter slowdown in corporate earnings include a slight downturn in consumer spending, continued high energy prices and a weak technology sector, he said.
"Companies in all are in good shape," he said.