Earnings season is here again, and if initial indications are right, it may not be pretty. Companies have been offering cautious guidance ahead of the release of their fourth quarter results.
"There are a couple of supports for earnings season" that have kept down input costs, notably lower oil prices in the fourth quarter and a weaker broad dollar, according to Rebecca Patterson, chief investment officer at Bessemer Trust. That said, she is not optimistic heading into earnings reports, she told CNBC's Melissa Lee. "I'm not looking for great news in the coming earnings season, but I think low expectations, lower input costs for some companies - it'll be a mixed bag, but nothing special."
(Read more: Fourth Quarter Earnings Outlook)
Andrew Busch, global currency and public policy strategist at BMO Capital Markets, is also relatively downbeat. While he thinks investors could be cheered initially if companies beat admittedly lackluster forecasts, he is more focused on companies' outlooks going forward. "My guess is, at some point we'll get disappointed with what's going on," he says. "Reality has to be there." Housing could be strong, he says, but "if we falter anywhere in here, there's a lot of reasons not to be excited."