It's the end of an era for six companies, where impressive stretches of uninterrupted earnings growth have just come to a sudden end.
Six companies in the Standard & Poor's 500, including retailers Bed Bath & Beyond, Costco Wholesale and Whole Foods Market and tractor maker Deere, reported lower or flat earnings in the first calendar quarter, ending what had been at least eight straight quarters of earnings growth, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data from S&P Capital IQ.
The sudden profit declines put an end to some of the most storied profit runs among large U.S. companies. Organic food seller Whole Foods has been on a blistering earnings growth run for years, including reporting 20 percent or more growth in five out of the past eight quarters. But that run came to an end in the first quarter when the company reported flat earnings per share of 38 cents a share.