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BEHIND THE MONEY: Best of This Earnings Season May Already Be Behind Us

Earnings season kicked into high gear this week and the markets put in a stellar performance with the S&P 500 up 7% in four days. From Goldman Sachs to Intel , the results and forecasts surprised investors to the upside and caused them to bid up shares.

But even though only 11 percent of the S&P 500 has reported second-quarter earnings so far, it's not too early to say we've seen the best of this earnings season, at least in terms of market response. Here's why:

First, with earnings coming in better than expected early, analysts and investors extrapolate these positive results to the companies that haven't yet reported and buy their shares as well. With elevated share prices and expectations, it makes it that much harder for the remaining companies to beat estimates by enough to drive stocks higher. For the remaining companies, it's now a higher hurdle to jump. Goldman Sachs options strategists have observed this extrapolation phenomenon in the past and therefore recommend focusing options strategies on the first two weeks of earnings season.

Second, the way the calendar lined up this quarter, the companies with the "better" balance sheets have already reported, according to FM trader Joe Terranova. (You can follow Joe on Twitter by clicking here. Take for example financials. We got the capital markets-oriented Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan with stellar results this week. Over the next two weeks, we get the very consumer-weighted regional banks. With credit losses mounting, but trading thriving, Terranova is short the regionals and long the capital markets names. (See BB&T today for an early regional bank preview.)

Third, if you think Apple (out Tuesday) is going to keep the party going, don't bet on it. Piper Jaffray analyst and widely-followed Apple expert Gene Munster notes that the company has guided lower in 10 of the last 12 quarters.

The bar has been raised, let's see if the remaining companies are up to the challenge.

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Trader disclosure: On July 17th, 2009, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders: Najarian Owns (BTU) Call Spread; Najarian Owns (F) Calls; Najarian Owns (INTC) Call Spread; Najarian Owns (JPM) And Is Short (JPM) Calls; Najarian Owns (MCD) And Is Short (MCD) Calls; Najarian Owns (MS) Call Spread; Najarian Owns (MSFT) And Is Short (MSFT) Calls; Najarian Owns (SU) Calls; Najarian Owns (XLF) Call Spread; Najarian Owns (YHOO) Call Spread; Finerman's Firm Owns (MSFT), (NOK), (WMT), (APC); Finerman's Firm And Finerman Own (WFC) Preferred Shares, Finerman's Firm Is Short (WFC); Finerman's Firm And Finerman Own (BAC) Preferred Shares; Finerman's Firm Is Short (IJR), (IYR), (IWM), (MDY), (SPY), (USO); Finerman's Firm And Finerman Own (RIG); Terranova Owns (TER), (RIMM), (SUN), (MSFT), (FTO); Terranova Works For (VRTS); Terranova Is Chief Alternatives Strategist Of Virtus Investment Partners, Ltd.; Terranova Is Co-Portfolio Manager Of The Virtus Diversifier PHOLIO; Virtus Diversifier PHOLIO Owns (IGE), (DBC), (DBV)

For Patty Edwards:
Edwards Owns (WMT), (PM)

For Joe Terranova:
Virtus Investment Partners Owns More Than 1% Of (ABD)
Virtus Investment Partners Owns More Than 1% Of (CBL)
Virtus Investment Partners Owns More Than 1% Of (CAL)
Virtus Investment Partners Owns More Than 1% Of (CLB)
Virtus Investment Partners Owns More Than 1% Of (DLR)
Virtus Investment Partners Owns More Than 1% Of (EXR)
Virtus Investment Partners Owns More Than 1% Of (IGE)
Virtus Investment Partners Owns More Than 1% Of (MEE)
Virtus Investment Partners Owns More Than 1% Of (DBC)
Virtus Investment Partners Owns More Than 1% Of (DBV)
Virtus Investment Partners Owns More Than 1% Of (DBA)
Virtus Investment Partners Owns More Than 1% Of St Mary Land & Exploration Co
Virtus Investment Partners Owns More Than 1% Of Seagate Tax Refund Rights
Virtus Investment Partners Owns More Than 1% Of (SKT)
Virtus Investment Partners Owns More Than 1% Of (TNB)
Virtus Investment Partners Owns More Than 1% Of (UA)
Virtus Investment Partners Owns More Than 1% Of (WBMD)

For Jared Levy:
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (AGU)
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (AMZN)
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (BBT)
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (BTU)
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (EBAY)
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (FCX)
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (GE)
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (GS)
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (HAS)
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (IGT)
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (JPM)
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (KO)
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (MAT)
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (MCD)
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (MO)
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (NOK)
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (PENN)
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (PLCE)
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (PM)
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (POT)
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (SBUX)
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (SHFL)
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (SU)
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (UPS)
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (WMT)
Peak6 Investments Is Short And Has An Options Position In (XLF)
Peak6 Investments Owns And Has An Options Position In (AXP)
Peak6 Investments Owns And Has An Options Position In (BA)
Peak6 Investments Owns And Has An Options Position In (BAC)
Peak6 Investments Owns And Has An Options Position In (C)
Peak6 Investments Owns And Has An Options Position In (CAT)
Peak6 Investments Owns And Has An Options Position In (CIT)
Peak6 Investments Owns And Has An Options Position In (COF)
Peak6 Investments Owns And Has An Options Position In (F)
Peak6 Investments Owns And Has An Options Position In (GLD)
Peak6 Investments Owns And Has An Options Position In (GOOG)
Peak6 Investments Owns And Has An Options Position In (IBM)
Peak6 Investments Owns And Has An Options Position In (INTC)
Peak6 Investments Owns And Has An Options Position In (JNJ)
Peak6 Investments Owns And Has An Options Position In (LM)
Peak6 Investments Owns And Has An Options Position In (MMM)
Peak6 Investments Owns And Has An Options Position In (MRK)
Peak6 Investments Owns And Has An Options Position In (MS)
Peak6 Investments Owns And Has An Options Position In (MSFT)
Peak6 Investments Owns And Has An Options Position In (PFE)
Peak6 Investments Owns And Has An Options Position In (SJM)
Peak6 Investments Owns And Has An Options Position In (TXN)
Peak6 Investments Owns And Has An Options Position In (USB)
Peak6 Investments Owns And Has An Options Position In (USO)
Peak6 Investments Owns And Has An Options Position In (UNG)
Peak6 Investments Owns And Has An Options Position In (YHOO)