While the earnings themselves will be a big focus, the rate of growth could be a real reason for stocks either to power towards new record highs or take a breather after a strong bull run. This time around, Wall Street’s stock experts believe that growth will be even stronger than in the first quarter.
When the first quarter earnings season got underway, analysts were only predicting modestly higher growth in corporate profits. Instead, growth in those profits at S&P 500 companies came in at 5.6 percent, according to analysis by Thomson Reuters.
Read More These 11 companies own earnings season
This time around, analysts are expecting profit growth among those S&P 500 companies of 6.2 percent, although it should be noted that those estimates have been drifting lower since around October of last year as more clarity around current economic themes has come to light. Still, if profits are still able to grow at a healthy clip, bulls may find at least some justification for a stock market near record highs.
What’s noteworthy is where the profit growth in the S&P 500 is expected to come from. Thomson Reuters analysts broke down the profit growth by sector.
The third-highest expected profit growth for the quarter comes from thetelecom services sector. It’s expected to be a gain of 8.6 percent. The telecom sector in the S&P 500 is home to big names like Verizon and AT&T, as well as other, heftier dividend paying companies like Windstream Holdings and Frontier Communications. Both stocks have gained around 25 percent so far year-to-date.
The second-highest expected profit growth comes out of the energy sector, which is expected to grow by 10.8 percent. Energy stocks have been the second-best performing sector in the S&P 500 on a year-to-date basis, with a gain of 11 percent.
Read More Only this can save earnings season
The single highest expected earnings growth in the S&P 500 comes from the technology sector. Analysts are anticipating a possible 12.4 percent rise in those profits. Tech has been the fourth-best performing sector in the index with a year-to-date gain of 9 percent. If that technology profit growth comes to fruition, it could be an encouraging sign, and provide a reason to be more optimistic on the overall markets. At 19 percent, the sector is the most heavily weighted in the S&P.
As for the only two sectors expected to post profit declines? Utilities at -0.8 percent and financials at -3.1 percent. Utilities have been the stars of the market so far this year, with the sector posting the best gain among all sectors this year. The sector is up 13 percent.
Financials have been lagging with a 4 percent gain during that span. But with financials, investors are getting ready for what could be more than a few disappointing results, given the lackluster forecast for trading revenues among the biggest banks on Wall Street. Large cap bank earnings season kicks off on Friday with Wells Fargo slated to report its numbers. Many of the other banks report next week.
Financials are the second-most heavily weighted sector in the S&P 500 at 16 percent. So, it stacks up like this. The two most heavily weighted sectors in the S&P—financials and technology—are expected to be on opposite ends of the profit growth spectrum. This tug of war may be one of the reasons investors are taking a breather on pouring more money into stocks, at least for now.
Read More Jobs and Dow surge, earnings to follow?