Bears Feeling Queasy as Earnings Ramp Up

Updated from 5 a.m. EDT

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) --- Positive earnings brought about a negative response from investors last week. And as a new trading week begins, that same negative vibe appears prevalent.

As of 6:55 a.m. EDT Monday, participants who were bearish in the TheStreet's Bull vs. Bear poll tallied 354 votes, or 48.1% of the total 736 votes cast. Bulls scored 309 votes, or 42% of the total, while survey-takers who were neutral on the stock market this week came in at 73 votes, or 9.9%.

Last week started off well enough when Alcoa's ( AA) earnings topped analysts' estimates, and then JPMorgan Chase's ( JPM) earnings skyrocketed. In fact, according to Thomson Reuters, almost 70% of the S&P 500 companies that reported last week topped estimates.

But when General Electric ( GE)and Bank of America ( BAC) came in Friday with revenue that was below expectations, the stock market sold off and the major stock indices closed down 2.5% or more on Friday.

Adding to investor woes on Friday was a report that showed consumer confidence had fallen. Earlier in the week other macroeconomic releases revealed an economic recovery in the U.S. and the globe could be stalling.

This week 122 companies in the S&P 500 are scheduled to report earnings. Investors get reports the likes of IBM ( IBM), Coca-Cola ( KO), Goldman Sachs ( GS), Apple ( AAPL) and American Express ( AXP).

Participants in the TheStreet's Bull vs. Bear poll viewed the commercial banks sector as the sector most likely to rise and fall this week.

Premarket futures suggest stocks will rise when Wall Street opens Monday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished last week down 1%, the S&P 500 lost 1.2% and Nasdaq edged lower by 0.8%.

Asian stocks closed mostly lower Monday while European stocks were higher, reversing earlier losses.

> > Bull or Bear? Vote in Our Poll

The poll closes at 9:15 a.m.

Here's a wrap-up of our other polls:

Ten days ago, LeBron James chose to break with long-standing sports tradition of keeping deals between players and management in the private realm before announcing them to the world. It's fair to say he paid a hefty public-relations price in doing so.

Yet that's all water, or in the case of Cleveland, mud flats under the bridge now.

The real question is whether or not LeBron James and the Miami Heat made the right decision to merge, and this question has its own business world metaphorical implications. It's a merger of the best independent property in the NBA with a conglomerate that believes that the synergies created by signing LeBron will result in its inevitable rise above peers. It's your classic M&A deal, but which kind of M&A deal will the LeBron James-Miami Heat merger represent when history replaces the judgment of Dan Gilbert?

We asked readers of TheStreet last week to weigh in on the issue. Asking them choose whether the LeBron James-Miami Heat pairing was the glorious Disney ( DIS)-Pixar merger, the Sirius XM Radio ( SIRI)deal of necessity, the AOL ( AOL)- Time Warner ( TWX) debacle, or the Quaker Oats-Snapple "peak buying" disaster.

Taken together, readers who think the LeBron-Heat tie-up will devolve into corporate deal-making disaster like Time Warner-America Online or Quaker Oat-Snapple represent 62% of the votes cast.

The message for investors? Start building your Miami Heat short positions before the opening tip of the next NBA season.

>>Click here for full results and analysis of our LeBron James poll

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