End of the year earnings: Has the buck finally stopped?

Traders work on the floor of the New york Stock Exchange on January 2, 2013 in New York City.

Corporate earnings season is here again. The first reports arrive today, starting with the aluminum company Alcoa. Analysts are bracing for a slew of lackluster numbers.

"If you aren't going to have a swell report, you dump everything concievable in there and get it out of the way," says Juli Niemann, analyst with Smith, Moore & Company. "We are going to see a lot of write-offs and reserves."

Niemann expects retailers to fault cold weather, Super Storm Sandy, and the fiscal cliff for tepid end-of-the-year performance numbers.

"Fourth quarter accounting moves are really going to hit too," Niemann adds. "Companies have pretty much exhasted cost cutting moves, so what's left to boost earnings? It's going to be real growth -- and there is not much there for the next few years."

To hear Niemann's thoughts on the investing landscape and why we are experiencing a "stealth bull market," click on the audio player above.

About the author

Jeff Horwich is the interim host of Marketplace Morning Report and a sometime-Marketplace reporter.

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