Can This Earnings Season Keep Up Its Winning Streak?

traders on NY Stock ExchangeThe first peak week of second-quarter earnings season was just what the market ordered. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) rose more than 3% last week, helped in no small part by some beat-and-raise numbers from blue-chip components Caterpillar (CAT) and 3M (MMM).

And now, holy cow, the Dow is but a handful of points shy of breakeven on the year. But whether the market can extend its streak through a second heavy week of earnings reports will largely depend on what DuPont (DD), Boeing (BA), ExxonMobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX) have to say -- especially when it comes to sales.

Despite some big-time misses on top-line revenues this earnings season (IBM [IBM] and General Electric [GE] come to mind), in the aggregate, revenue has actually been peachy. Of the 174 companies in the S&P 500 ($INX) having reported so far, 67% have beaten Wall Street estimates on the top line -- better than the trailing four-quarter average of 61%, according to data from Thomson Reuters. (The number of revenue misses is down, too, so far for this reporting period.)

As good has revenue has been so far, that won't mean much to the market if a notable name or two seriously blows second-quarter results. Traders are jittery, and volume is thin. Disappoint on revenue, and investors will show little mercy in paring their stakes, says Joe Greco, managing director with Meridian Equity Partners. After all, that's what they're paying for.

"We continue to look for positive revenue growth, not just earnings growth," Greco says. "In the first quarter we saw a lot of trimming of the fat, and now CEOs are saying now we just want to grow revenue. And that's what investors want to see."

For more on Greco's take on second-quarter earnings from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYX), see the video below:


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