In at least one sense, the coming week will bring a sense of deja vu for investors: Corporate earnings will continue to flood in. What isn't known is whether shareholders will greet the next wave of quarterly reports with the same disgust they apparently had for last week's offerings.
Last week was especially painful for equity investors, as the
lost 3.9% to settle at 1319, the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
lost 7.7% to 8019, and the
fell 8.1% to 847. The major averages are now all below the levels they hit following the terrorist attacks on the U.S. last September.
"The fundamentals are not as bad as the market suggests," said John Miller, a fund manager at John Nuveen, who pointed out that the economy grew about 3% to 3.5% in the second quarter and that the unemployment rate has been holding steady at around 5.9%.
Investors who have long positions in stocks certainly want to believe that, but a massive selloff Friday left the major averages sharply lower. And if there's more selling next week, all the experts will be wondering just how far down stocks can go.
All About the Bellwethers
Some of the many companies scheduled to report earnings this coming week include
AOL Time Warner
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
Economic reports include June's
durable goods orders and the second-quarter
employment cost index.
new-home sales and
existing-home sales will be released, as will the weekly
initial jobless claims report and the University of Michigan's final reading on July
As of late Thursday, more than half of the companies in the
that had reported earnings came in above estimates.
But several companies, such as
, didn't give particularly optimistic guidance for the second half of this year or fell short of revenue expectations.
In addition, if speculation in published reports is correct and
files for bankruptcy in the coming week, some negative fallout could be expected to hit the vendors and banks that have exposure to the telecommunications company.
"We've priced in some more negativism in the earnings, but Wall Street just can't get out of its own way," said Kim Rupert, a senior economist with Standard & Poor's. "And it's unclear when it will turn around."
Robert Barbera, chief economist with Hoenig & Co., believes that the stock market declines will be ongoing as investors continue to worry about the possibility that at least some of corporate America's reported earnings over the last few years haven't been as solid as originally believed.
The market is discovering that it was an accounting illusion," he said.
Rupert believes that
Chairman Alan Greenspan's comments last week, hinting that revisions of previously reported earnings should be expected, is weighing heavily on investors minds and the markets during earnings season.