High hopes for earnings reports this week

Potential profit, not political turmoil, drive the results




It has been said that bull markets don’t die of old age. That’s good news for investors in the current stock market, which is the longest-running bull since the 1950s.

Dozens of companies, from Bank of America to Whirlpool, will release quarterly financial results in the week ahead, and shareholders are confident earnings will continue fueling optimism of future gains.

The S&P 500 is hovering near new highs, and earnings for the companies in the index are projected to have jumped 6.5 percent over year-ago performances, according to financial research firm FactSet.

In an efficient market, those profits are priced in. But this aging bull market is buying expectations that earnings growth will speed up throughout the rest of the year. Analysts anticipate earnings will grow more than 7 percent this quarter and more than 12 percent in the fourth quarter.

Those rosy projections will be in focus as second-quarter earnings season begins in earnest. Stodgy sectors such as energy and materials should lead the charge, and technology businesses should help, too.

Strong profit growth will trump any of the doings of President Donald Trump, Brexit concerns or worries about North Korea. While any of those uncertainties can fracture investor confidence, it’s the promise of profit that matters most to the market.