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Here are the S&P 500 companies with the best and worst earnings surprises

Amazon posted one of the biggest positive earnings surprises this season, while General Electric was a huge disappointment.

It’s easy for me to complain each quarter about how Wall Street misleads investors with its game of “beating” earnings estimates. But there’s no question that major earnings (or sales) surprises can drive big moves in share prices.

That’s when it might be a good idea to reevaluate your opinion of a stock. Should you sell after an earnings surprise causes shares to soar? Has a stock fallen too far after bad news, creating a buying opportunity?

We’ve put together four lists of companies that have posted major surprises this earnings season.

First, some points about the data: Not every company has a fiscal quarter that matches the calendar quarter. It can seem that it’s always earnings season. So we had to make a decision on the earliest fiscal quarter-end date to include in this data set. Through Nov. 7, 429 of the companies in the S&P 500 Index SPX, -0.09% had announced results for fiscal quarters ending Aug. 26 or later.

One more decision we made is that companies that were expected to lose money during the quarter were only included in the “positive surprise” list if they showed a profit.

Among the 429 S&P 500 companies that announced their results through Nov. 7, here are the 10 that surprised analysts the most, to the upside, for earnings per share this earnings season:

Company Ticker Industry Consensus quarterly EPS estimate before report Actual EPS from company press release Surprise Total return - Oct. 6 through Nov. 7 Total return - year-to-date
SL Green Realty Corp. SLG, +1.15% Real Estate Investment Trusts -$0.04 $0.40 N/A -8% -8%
EQT Corp. EQT, -1.11% Oil and Gas Production -$0.03 $0.12 N/A -1% -3%
Apache Corp. APA, -2.45% Oil and Gas Production -$0.02 $0.04 N/A 1% -27%
Vornado Realty Trust VNO, +0.47% Real Estate Investment Trusts $0.03 $0.36 1,085% -5% -10%
Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, -0.33% Internet Retail $0.07 $0.52 687% 13% 50%
Prologis Inc. PLD, -0.39% Real Estate Investment Trusts $0.35 $1.63 364% 3% 29%
Fifth Third Bancorp FITB, -1.21% Regional Banks $0.48 $1.35 183% 1% 7%
Incyte Corp. INCY, +1.72% Biotechnology $0.06 $0.17 164% -6% 8%
Mosaic Co. MOS, +1.51% Chemicals $0.19 $0.43 123% 7% -21%
Traveler Cos. TRV, +0.75% Property/ Casualty Insurance $0.42 $0.91 116% 7% 11%
Source: FactSet

You can click on the tickers for company profiles, news, estimates, charts, ratings and financials.

Earnings down

Here are the 10 S&P 500 companies that surprised analysts the most with lower-than-expected earnings per share so far this season:

Company Ticker Industry Consensus quarterly EPS estimate before report Actual EPS from company press release Surprise Total return - Oct. 6 through Nov. 7 Total return - year-to-date
Brighthouse Financial Inc. BHF, +0.14% Life/ Health Insurance $2.14 -$5.64 N/A -7% N/A
HCP Inc. HCP, -0.04% Real Estate Investment Trusts $0.15 -$0.02 N/A 2% -4%
Digital Realty Trust Inc. DLR, -1.14% Real Estate Investment Trusts $0.36 -$0.02 N/A 3% 27%
Mattel Inc. MAT, +4.95% Recreational Products $0.57 $0.09 -84% -16% -51%
Charter Communications Inc. CHTR, -0.81% Cable/ Satellite TV $0.98 $0.19 -81% -7% 19%
Scana Corp. SCG, -1.48% Electric Utilities $1.23 $0.24 -80% -8% -37%
Baker Hughes, a GE Co. BHGE, +0.64% Oilfield Services/ Equipment $0.11 $0.05 -57% -8% -23%
Welltower Inc. HCN, -0.23% Real Estate Investment Trusts $0.46 $0.20 -56% 2% 8%
General Electric Co. GE, +2.50% Industrial Conglomerates $0.49 $0.29 -41% -17% -34%
Nielsen Holdings PLC NLSN, -1.29% Advertising/ Marketing Services $0.69 $0.41 -40% -8% -7%
Source: FactSet

Here are the 10 S&P 500 companies that surprised analysts the most with better-than-expected quarterly sales so far this season:

Company Ticker Industry Consensus quarterly sales estimate before report ($ million) Actual sales from company press release ($ million) Surprise Total return - Oct. 6 through Nov. 7 Total return - year-to-date
Chesapeake Energy Corp. CHK, +0.73% Oil and Gas Production $1,051 $1,943 85% 0% -40%
EOG Resources Inc EOG, -0.19% Oil and Gas Production $1,787 $2,645 48% 10% 6%
Hess Corp. HES, -0.88% Oil and Gas Production $1,231 $1,666 35% 8% -22%
Principal Financial Group Inc. PFG, -0.53% Financial Conglomerates $3,254 $3,978 22% 4% 22%
CF Industries Holdings Inc. CF, +0.38% Chemicals $736 $870 18% 8% 21%
Marathon Oil Corp. MRO, -1.01% Oil and Gas Production $1,061 $1,252 18% 19% -6%
DTE Energy Co. DTE, -0.68% Electric Utilities $2,803 $3,245 16% 5% 17%
Quanta Services Inc. PWR, +0.93% Engineering and Construction $2,322 $2,609 12% -4% 4%
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS, -0.27% Investment Banks/ Brokers $7,534 $8,326 11% -3% 1%
Cummins Inc CMI, +0.59% Trucks/ Construction/ Farm Machinery $4,787 $5,285 10% 0% 28%
Source: FactSet

Here are the 10 S&P 500 companies that surprised analysts the most with lower-than-expected quarterly sales so far this season:

Company Ticker Industry Consensus quarterly sales estimates before report ($ million) Actual sales from company press release ($ million) Surprise Total return - Oct. 6 through Nov. 7 Total return - year-to-date
Alliant Energy Corp. LNT, -0.95% Electric Utilities $1,233 $907 -26% 6% 20%
Mattel Inc. MAT, +4.95% Recreational Products $1,805 $1,561 -14% -16% -51%
Duke Energy Corp. DUK, -0.83% Electric Utilities $7,467 $6,482 -13% 6% 19%
Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. PEG, +0.22% Electric Utilities $2,564 $2,278 -11% 5% 17%
Marathon Petroleum Corp. MPC, +0.10% Oil Refining/ Marketing $21,650 $19,386 -10% 13% 28%
Phillips 66 PSX, -0.80% Oil Refining/ Marketing $28,761 $25,929 -10% 2% 12%
PPL Corp. PPL, -1.28% Electric Utilities $2,017 $1,845 -9% 0% 13%
Prologis Inc. PLD, -0.39% Real Estate Investment Trusts $578 $531 -8% 3% 29%
Scana Corp. SCG, -1.48% Electric Utilities $1,170 $1,076 -8% -8% -37%
American Electric Power Co. AEP, -0.94% Electric Utilities $4,456 $4,100 -8% 5% 23%
Source: FactSet

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