Despite Reports to the Contrary, the Consumer Is Alive and Well

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Earnings season is quickly winding down, and despite the wild stock market swings in recent weeks, corporate America has provided a steady stream of strong earnings to counter the doom-and-gloom headlines.

According to Capital IQ Consensus Estimates, S&P 500 earnings per share during the second quarter have grown 19.1% year-over-year, with 458 companies of the index reporting. Nearly 70% of those companies have beaten estimates: Leading the way is information technology and, surprisingly, consumer discretionary.

Consumer Discretionary Comes On Strong

During last week's earnings roundup, the focus was squarely on retailers, and they didn't disappoint.

A diverse group of companies beat analyst estimates, illustrating that the consumer is indeed alive and well despite what you may have heard over the last two weeks.

Wal-Mart's (WMT) earnings per share jumped 15% from last year to $1.12, beating the Capital IQ consensus estimate of $1.08. Home improvement expert Home Depot (HD), teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF), and PC maker Dell (DELL) also topped estimates.

This continues a trend of strong earnings from consumer discretionary and consumer staples companies this earnings season.

Sector
Above
Match
Below
Surprise
Reported
Index
Consumer Discretionary
78%
9%
13%
9.4%
76
79
Consumer Staples
72%
11%
17%
1.6%
36
41
Energy
71%
0%
29%
6.9%
41
41
Financials
67%
9%
25%
12.4%
81
81
Healthcare
76%
16%
8%
5.0%
50
52
Industrials
66%
9%
26%
3.7%
58
60
Information Technology
81%
8%
11%
12.7%
72
75
Materials
63%
7%
30%
1.2%
30
30
Telecom
38%
25%
38%
(4.6%)
8
8
Utilities
55%
12%
33%
2.6%
33
33
S&P 500
69%
9%
21%
7.2%
458
500
Source: Capital IQ Consensus Estimates, a division of Standard & Poor's.

What to Watch for This Week
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Medtronic (MDT) will give us a peek into the health of medical devices when it reports earnings this week. Capital IQ is expecting earnings of $0.79 per share, down slightly from the $0.80 in EPS the company reported last year.

We also get another look at how the top and bottom ends of the consumer market are faring when discounter Big Lots (BIG) and premium jeweler Tiffany & Co. (TIF) report. Capital IQ consensus estimates see earnings of $0.44 and $0.69 per share, respectively, for the two companies.

Be sure to check in for our take on these earnings reports as they're released this week and we wind down a wild earnings season.

Motley Fool contributor Travis Hoium does not have a position in any company mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Medtronic and Wal-Mart Stores. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Home Depot, Dell, and Wal-Mart Stores, as well as creating a diagonal call position in Wal-Mart Stores.



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