Unexpectedly Intriguing!
April 27, 2009

S&P 500 Trailing Year Earnings per Share and Dividends per Share, Historic and Forecast (as of 27 April 2009) The last time we looked at the earnings of the S&P 500, we described them as being "an even deeper earnings bucket," as they had significantly decreased from when we had charted them just two weeks earlier.

Today, the expected trailing year earnings for the S&P 500 in the first quarter of 2009 don't look much like a deep bucket so as much as they look more like a really nasty crevasse. We'll also note that the first quarter of 2009 would mark the first time since the S&P 500 was originally developed in 1957, that the index' trailing year earnings has ever been negative.

This "achievement" owes a great deal to many companies' decisions to book as many losses as possible in the fourth quarter of 2008. As a result, the earnings per share recorded for the S&P 500 for the quarter was a mind-boggling -$23.25. By contrast, in the first quarter of 2009, earnings per share are projected to come in around $7.32.

Looking forward to the end of 2010, a long, slow climb appears to be in the cards for earnings in the S&P 500 given S&P's latest indications.

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