While last earnings season started out strong, by the end of the reporting period, just 59% of companies had beaten analyst EPS estimates. This was the lowest reading seen since the bull market began, and it definitely didn't help stocks, which were already struggling due to problems in Europe.
Due to the low beat rate last season, it's no surprise that analysts have been sharply cutting earnings estimates since then. The one good thing about this is that it makes it a little easier for companies to beat expectations.
As shown below, 78.3% of the 189 companies that have reported earnings this off-season (since WMT reported on 5/17) have beaten estimates, so it appears as if the big cuts by analysts are indeed making beats a little easier for companies. It will be interesting to see if this trend holds over the next month when the second quarter reporting period begins.
The average stock that has reported earnings since May 17th has declined 0.22% on its earnings report day. (For companies that report after the close, we use the next day's change.) Below are lists of the best and worst performing stocks on their report days this off-season.