×

The best earnings season in 7 years has just begun

  • The first quarter "marks the best growth recorded since 2011 when the [S&P 500] was climbing out of the depths of the latest recession," notes Lindsey Bell of CFRA.
  • Corporate earnings rose 19.5 percent in the first quarter of 2011, according to FactSet.
  • This is one of the most widely anticipated earnings seasons in recent memory as investors expect a lower corporate tax rate to have boosted the bottom line for companies.
  • Corporate earnings season kicked off on Thursday, with asset manager BlackRock and Delta Air Lines reporting higher-than-expected profits.

Analysts at CFRA expect corporate earnings to have surged 16.3 percent in the first quarter, the most in seven years.

"It marks the best growth recorded since 2011 when the [S&P 500] was climbing out of the depths of the latest recession, and is reminiscent of the growth recorded at the peak of the prior bull market," Lindsey Bell, investment strategist at CFRA, wrote in a note Thursday.

Corporate earnings rose 19.5 percent in the first quarter of 2011, according to FactSet.

Corporate New York skyline
Toshi Sasaki | Getty Images

This is one of the most widely anticipated earnings seasons in recent memory as investors expect a lower corporate tax rate to have boosted the bottom line for companies. President Donald Trump signed a bill in December that lowered the U.S. corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent.

"This will be the first quarter corporations will benefit from the Trump administration's tax policy, which is a key reason growth jumped from 10.4% at the start of the year to above 16% by the end of January," Bell said.

But the stock market comes into the earnings season amid a spike in volatility, fueled in part by worries about rising interest rates and increasing trade tensions between the U.S. and key partners like Mexico and China.

The S&P 500 fell 1.2 percent in the first quarter and more than 4 percent in the past month.

"We are nervous that market turmoil could result in tempered Q2 guidance from corporate management teams," Bell said.

Corporate earnings season kicked off Thursday, with asset manager BlackRock and Delta Air Lines reporting higher-than-expected profits. Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo are among the companies scheduled to report Friday morning.

WATCH: Earnings front and center