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When Do Earnings Get Back to Pre-pandemic Levels?

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The picture that emerged out of the Q4 earnings season was one of all-around strength, with growth notably surprising to the upside and estimates for the current and coming quarters going up.

With almost all of the 2020 Q4 results now in (only 7 S&P 500 members are still to report results), total earnings for the index are on track to be up +3.1% from the same period last year on an equivalent rise in revenues.

The growth picture is expected to significantly improve in the coming quarters, as the chart below shows.

The focus lately has been on the Retail sector, where a number of the sector leaders like Wal-Mart (WMT - Free Report) , Home Depot (HD - Free Report) , Target (TGT - Free Report) and others reported impressive results. The market’s less-than-favorable reaction to these otherwise strong results reflected the view that these companies will find it hard to sustain the growth momentum in the post-pandemic world as consumers will have a wider selection of options to spend their money on. We saw this view earlier with Amazon’s (AMZN) otherwise blowout numbers as well.

The positive earnings and revenue growth in Q4 show that in some ways we have already moved past the pandemic’s impact on growth. But we will have to wait longer for all sectors of the economy, particularly the hardest hit like leisure, hospitality, travel and others, come back into their own.

For a detailed look at the overall earnings picture, please check out our weekly Earnings Trends report: An All-Around Improving Earnings Picture


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