According to Standard & Poor’s, this marks the eleventh consecutive quarter of double-digit (year-over-year) operating earnings increases, which has not been done since the start of the second quarter in 1993, S&P said in a press release.
With over 80% of the companies reporting, the fourth quarter will post average operating earnings of $18.18, well ahead of the record of $16.98 set in the second quarter of last year. On the year, operating earnings are expected to be $67.90, up 24.2% from the earnings seen in 2003.
Operating earnings increases have been aided by productivity gains, low employment expansion and a lack of corporate expenditures, according to S&P.
Operating margins were still increasing in the fourth quarter with a rate of 9.35%, according to the company, which was up from the previous year’s figure of 8.50%. Energy and Materials performed the best, with 90% of their issues beating their 2004 earnings. In 2005, Information Technology and Materials are expected to post the best earnings increases, with gains of 19% expected on the year.