Apple, Facebook, Coke, Ford and Verizon are part of Zacks Earnings Preview:

Jul 18, 2014, 09:30 ET from Zacks Investment Research, Inc.

CHICAGO, July 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- releases the list of companies likely to issue earnings surprises. This week's list includes Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL-Free Report), Facebook (Nasdaq: FB-Free Report), Coke (NYSE: KO-Free Report), Ford (NYSE: F-Free Report) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ-Free Report).

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Is the Earnings Improvement for Real?

The Finance sector gave us a good start to the 2014 Q2 earnings season. It isn't 'good' in terms of growth – there is not much of that for the big banks and brokers. There weren't many surprises on the net interest margins, trading volumes, and mortgage business fronts – they have been weak for a while and we saw more of that in Q2 as well. What came as a pleasant surprise were signs of modest improvement in lending and investment banking.

These improvements coupled with tight cost controls resulted in better-than-expected results for the Finance sector. The 42% of the sector's market capitalization that have reported Q2 results are overwhelming coming out with positive surprises.

With results from the big banks and brokers now behind us, attention in the sector will shift to the insurance industry which will start reporting this week. Overall, total earnings for the Finance sector companies that have reported are essentially flat (up only +0.2%) on modestly lower revenues (down -0.6%).

The composite (or blended) Q2 picture for the sector, combining the actual results for the 17 companies that have reported with estimates for the still-to-report 63 companies, is for earnings growth of +2.9%. This is better than pre-season estimates and the sector's Q1 performance when earnings were down -7.1% from the same period last year. Hopes remain high that the sector will resume its growth trajectory in the coming quarters.

These growth projections reflect aggressive estimates for the sector, but the strong results thus far in Q2 has likely increased confidence in these estimates.

Earnings Calendar (week of July 21)

Next week's reporting calendar (the week of July 21) takes us into the heart of the Q2 earnings season this week with almost 600 companies reporting results, including 141 S&P 500 members. This week's line-up of reports spans the entire breadth of the U.S. economy – from Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL-Free Report) and Facebook (Nasdaq: FB-Free Report) to Coke (NYSE: KO-Free Report), Ford (NYSE: F-Free Report), Verizon (NYSE: VZ-Free Report) and a lot more in the middle.

With a little over a tenth of the Q2 results already in, we can say that the reporting season is off to a good start. By the end of next week, we will know definitively how good this earnings season has been.

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