wall streetEver optimistic, Wall Street analysts are predicting a record $97 in aggregate earnings per share for the S&P 500 next year despite a lackluster economy. The call for stunning profit growth may seem odd. And a growing roster of companies seem to have not gotten the memo.

For instance, an anemic outlook by economic bellwether Fed Ex (FDX) weighed on stocks Wednesday. Later in the day, handset giant Nokia (NOK) warned that the current quarter would come in below expectations, though the company pinned the blame more on competition from rivals like Apple (AAPL) than on weak overall demand. Still, its shares were hammered in trading.

And on Tuesday, shares of electronic retailer Best Buy (BBY) got beaten down amid its dim performance expectations.

Companies including Cisco (CSCO), Dell (DELL), Salesforce.com (CRM), Home Depot (HD), Lowe's (LOW) and Wal-Mart (WMT) have issued disappointing outlooks recently.

Fears about Europe's debt crisis may be easing, but investors have plenty to worry about at home. Expectations of massive corporate profits have so far held off signs of a weak economy and propped up the stock market. But that dynamic could change if analysts finally start cutting their outlook for profits.


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