AIG Controls S&P 500's Fate

NEW YORK ( TheStreet)--S&P 500 growth projections for the fourth quarter are unusually bullish in large part because of AIG ( AIG) rebound from a disastrous fourth quarter last year.

S&P 500 companies are expected to earn $30 billion more in the fourth quarter of 2011 than they earned in the fourth quarter of 2010, according to analyst consensus projections from FactSet. However, AIG is expected to account for $15 billion of that total.
Hank Greenberg

AIG lost a whopping $16.20 per share in the fourth quarter of 2010, largely due to a $4.2 billion charge to strengthen loss reserves at Chartis, its global property casualty business. This year, analysts expect AIG to earn $0.63 per share.

Include the projected $15 billion in growth at AIG, and the S&P 500 would grow by 14% comparing the fourth quarter of 2010 to the fourth quarter of 2011. Take out AIG, and growth projections fall to 7%. AIG's $15 billion accounts for all but $3 billion of the projected $18 billion in financial sector earnings growth.

In separate AIG news, former CEO and Chairman Hank Greenberg is suing the government for its $25 billion takeover of AIG, arguing the move was unconstitutional, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

The government's bailout of AIG stands at more than $60 billion, as of June 30, according to company data .

-- Written by Dan Freed in New York. Follow this writer on Twitter.
Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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