Earnings season, by its very nature, looks back because an income statement reflects how a company did, not what it's going to do. But within the numbers, there are clues about what's ahead. The same thing is true in the words of executives during the conference calls that follow earnings releases. And now, with company after company pleading ignorance about visibility, hints about the future have taken on an even greater significance.

So throughout earnings season, the reporters of


have searched for the pieces of information that would tell stories about what's to come for some of the most important companies and sectors. The result is this group of stories that explores the key trends that emerged from the first-quarter earnings season.

Few Signs of Change for Second Quarter

Is Dell Winning the War, but Shooting Itself in the Foot?

Internet Ads Disappoint, Smothering Rebound Hopes

Credit Worries Loom Over Banks

Chip Business Will Crumble in the Second Quarter

Network Spending Takes Another Body Blow

Defying a Dreary Quarter, Software Wants to Party