No offense to Alcoa (AA) but JPMorgan's numbers always mean much more to the broad market as what many consider the best of the big money-center banks provides a barometer of what to expect from the rest of the group -- Bank of America (BAC - Get Report), Citigroup (C) and Wells Fargo (WFC) -- as well as insight into how Goldman Sachs (GS) and Morgan Stanley (MS) may have fared in their overlapping investment bank and trading businesses.
Of course, Jamie Dimon & Co. disappointed, and the group fell accordingly.
The theory is out there that the diminished earnings growth expectations for the fourth quarter can be spun as a potential positive catalyst for stocks. Through Thursday, according to Thomson Reuters, the blended (reported and estimated) earnings growth rate for the S&P 500 sat at 6.8%, down from 15% on Oct. 3.The drop reflects analysts scrambling to take into account an outsize number of warnings as well as the uncertainty presented by Europe's ongoing sovereign debt problems and the plodding growth of the U.S. economy (which is of course better than no growth at all). The pre-announcements continued to roll in this week, and the bad is still outnumbering the good by a wide margin. Through Thursday, 100 companies in the S&P 500 had issued negative pre-announcements vs. 30 positive and 11 in-line ones. That's a full 20% of the S&P 500 having already gone on the record with disappointing numbers, usually against their own prior guidance rather than Wall Street's consensus view. The culprits this week alone included disparate names like Juniper Networks (JNPR) and Tiffany & Co. (TIF), illustrating the forces driving the lower outlooks aren't limited to particular industries or geographies. To help navigate such a challenging environment, Birinyi Associates offered up an earnings cheat sheet earlier this week, isolating eight companies that have recorded both higher than expected earnings and higher than forecast revenue in at least 80% of prior periods. The list includes eBay (EBAY - Get Report), Intuitive Surgical (ISRG - Get Report), lululemon Athletica (LULU - Get Report), MasterCard (MA - Get Report), Priceline.com (PCLN - Get Report), Under Armour (UA - Get Report), United Continental Holdings (UAL - Get Report), and Visa (V - Get Report). Here's the details on the upcoming quarterly reports for each of these names, as well as some analysis.