Earnings: They keep getting better. Of 15 major companies reporting this morning, 13 beat earnings expectations, one (Delta Air Lines) matched, and only one (General Dynamics) missed.
More importantly, nine of the 15 raised 2012 estimates. But be careful here: Caterpillar, for example, raised its 2012 guidance to $9.50 from $9.25, but it beat first-quarter earnings estimates by $0.24. The company also noted business in China and Brazil was slowing.
You can thank Apple for helping today . Current expectations for first-quarter growth in the S&P 500 index is 6.3 percent, up from 4.9 percent yesterday and 0.95 percent a couple weeks ago.
Of the 188 companies that have reported so far in the S&P 500, 77 percent have beat. That is very high; the 10-year average is 62 percent.
What about second-quarter guidance? A tad on the negative side: 2.5 negative to positive; about 2:1 is average. But guidance is light (only 36 companies are forecasting), and it's clear that caution is the order of the day.
1) Dividend mania! Notice how many companies have been raising dividends recently: Dupont today, Parker Hannifin and Coach yesterday.
Of the 500 companies in the S&P 500, 150 (30 percent) have increased their dividends this year, the best since 2005, when 152 raised their dividends in the first four months.Page 1 of 3 | Next Page