Alice N. Sanders
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Here are the S&P 500 companies with the best and worst earnings surprises

Getty Images, Bloomberg

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, +0.14% 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.