Global Earnings Picture Reveals

May 5th Weekly Market Update

At the beginning of the year, many investors believed analysts’ forecasts for a faster pace of earnings growth combined with lower valuations would lead to stocks in Europe and Japan outperforming U.S. stocks. Now those earnings forecasts are being cut sharply, raising the questions of how much of a value international developed market stocks are and whether they can outperform the U.S. market in 2014.

Four times a year investors focus on the most fundamental driver of investment performance: earnings. For U.S. stocks, the earnings reporting season has produced nearly all the gains in the stock market over the past four years with nothing but volatility, on average, during the other weeks of the quarter. The earnings season in the United States is now nearly over with 374 of the S&P 500 companies — representing 80% of the market value of the index — having reported. While the earnings season will only reach the halfway point this week in Europe and Japan, the difference so far between their earnings results and guidance and U.S. markets is striking. High hopes of an overseas earnings rebound are being disappointed, which may be creating a performance headwind.

There are three areas of key regional differences in the global first quarter earnings season: expectations, growth, and guidance.

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