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Analysts see some strong earnings on the way

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Bill Radke: Maybe you haven’t been pining for earnings season, but to economists this is a major economic indicator. Today we’ll hear from the big aluminum maker Alcoa. Later in the week, some big banks weigh in. Marketplace’s Alisa Roth joins us live from our New York Bureau. Hi Alisa. Good morning.

Radke: Starting with the banks then. They made oodles of money in the first quarter. Are we going to see a repeat now?

Roth: Well what we’re talking about here of course is how these companies have been doing for the last three months. The financial companies, the banks, are a big question mark this time. In the first quarter of this year, as you said, they made lots of money. It was really trading and the capital markets business that brought in all that money. And those parts of the business were probably hurt by what’s been happening in the stock market. So the real question now is how do the banks’ other businesses do? It sounds like they’ve been losing less money on bad loans, but obviously losing less isn’t exactly the same as earning more.

Radke: And beyond the banks, Alisa, how is the rest of corporate America doing?

Roth: It really is going to depend on the company. Overall, analysts are predicting some strong earnings. Of course, part of that is that things have been so bad for so long that the bar is set pretty low. In some ways, the earnings themselves, though, are less significant this time — what analysts and everybody else are really watching is what companies are going to predict for the rest of the year. Because everybody’s looking for some omen about whether the economy is recovering — very slowly — or whether things are heading south again. Obviously this is a bit of a circular argument, but the idea is if companies do better, they’ll probably hire more. And as we keep hearing over and over again, in order for the economy to recover, what we need is more jobs.

Radke: Marketplace’s Alisa Roth, thanks a lot.

Roth: You’re welcome.

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