Earnings season: Q1 is the river card


In Texas Hold'em, the final card the dealer turns over - often the deciding card for a given hand, is called the River.

If the official end of the recession was the 3rd quarter of '09, we'll call that the Flop (the dealer's first 3 community cards). The 4th quarter of 2009, in which earnings doubled year-over-year, was both metaphorically and financially the Turn.

Continuing in this line of thought, the 1st quarter of 2010's earnings season will in many ways be the River card for the stock market. When the dealer flips this card face up, it could very well be decisive in terms of our off-the-bottom rally's ability to continue.

From CNNMoney, here's a look at the hand we'll be dealt this week:

Monday: Aluminum producer Alcoa is expected to have earned 11 cents per share, according to a consensus of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters. Alcoa reported a loss of 59 cents per share a year ago.

Tuesday: Chip leader Intel reports results after the close. The Dow component is expected to have earned 38 cents per share after earning 11 cents per share a year ago.

Wednesday: JPMorgan Chase, which reports results before the bell, is expected to have earned 64 cents per share versus 40 cents a year ago. JPMorgan is the first of a slew of banks that are expected to report strong profits this week.

Thursday: Tech behemoth Google reports results after the close. The company is expected to have earned $6.57 per share versus $5.16 per share a year ago.

Friday: Bank of America is expected to report a profit of 9 cents per share in the morning, down from 44 cents per share a year ago. General Electric is forecast to report a profit of 16 cents per share, down from 26 cents a year ago.

Clearly, the market's expecting confirmation to come in the form of corporate profits and outlooks during this earnings season. A season of strong reports may be the excuse that those who've been sidelined will use to finally dip more than a toe in. The moment of truth draws nigh.

Flip the card.

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