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Bracing For An Earnings Avalanche

This was written by CNBC producer, Robert Hum

The markets are poised for another weak open following a big round of earnings reports this morning. The earnings picture was far from pretty too, with many companies, from large industrials to regional banks, showing continued weakness in business conditions over the past quarter.

European marketsare also following up on their weak day yesterday with another 2% decline today.

This morning’s earnings highlights(or lowlights depending on how you look at it):

Down 4 percent pre-open, chemical manufacturer DuPont saw its Q1 profit fall plunge 59% on weak industry demand. Earnings came in 2 cents ahead of estimates, but the company cuts its full year EPS forecast to $1.70-$2.10, down from $2.00-$2.50. The company also announced it will continue to reduce spending and will increase the number of jobs cut.

Construction equipment maker Caterpillar is trading down 5% pre-open after slashing guidance for 2009. After posting its first quarterly loss in 17 years, Caterpillar now expects earnings to fall around $1.25 per share for the year – half of what it expected last quarter.

Results from Coca-Colafell inline with estimates, despite seeing its volumes in North America fall 2 percent. However, continued volume growth was maintained in India (up 31 percent), China (up 10 percent), and Latin America (up 5 percent).

Dow component United Technologiessaw earnings inline with estimates despite experiencing weak order trends. However, the CEO noted that they “saw stabilization in the rate of year-over-year decline across most of our businesses in March.” Furthermore, the company reaffirmed its full-year earnings outlook of $4.00-$4.50.

A number of regional banks are very weak pre-open following their reports of sharp drops in earnings. Regions Financialdown 15 percent, KeyCorp down 10 percent, State Streetdown 7 percent.

A positive report:

Retailer Coach up 7 percent after reporting its sales and earnings ahead of the street’s forecast. Another good sign – the CEO stated he was “encouraged by the stabilization of our comparable store sales to pre-Christmas levels in North America.” Additionally, the company announced that it will begin paying a 7.5-cent quarterly dividend.

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