Trend is Down

Not all is rosy in the earnings department. On balance, however, the first quarter’s been pretty good. But there are a number of big, brand name companies out there that aren’t generating the kind of numbers to get their stocks moving.

RadioShack, one of the best stores to go to if you need electronic equipment and gadgets, reported that its first quarter earnings dropped 85% over the comparable quarter. The company is going through a restructuring right now and moving out old inventory, but Wall Street isn’t very happy with the company and the stock is likely to stay in the doldrums.

I mentioned before the disappointing stock market performance |from Johnson & Johnson. The stock is now trading around $58, but is down from $69 last year. This company is a staple, but its near-term outlook seems mute.

Then there are our good friends at American Express. The company scared investors late last year, but the stock recovered mildly. Its latest numbers weren’t up to snuff and it looks like the stock is resuming its downtrend.

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Finally, there are the domestic automakers. Everyone already knows that these stocks are hurting. Losses are in the billions, but there is hope. The news is still bad, but Ford and GM will try to put all the bad news into this fiscal year, so when its time to report in 2007, the numbers will look like there’s been a significant improvement.

This is actually a reasonable strategy. If you’re going to report a really bad year, you might as well fit in as much restructuring and bad news as possible in order to more forward.

So, for a majority of the market, the first quarter represented some solid earnings growth. Be aware, however, that the trend for a lot of well-known large-cap companies is down.