Earnings season, which runs from Alcoa's (AA) report date through Wal-Mart's (WMT) report date, came to an end today. Over this time period, the S&P 500 was pretty much flat, gaining 35 basis points.
Pretty much all of the commentary we've been hearing in regards to the reporting period has suggested that earnings season was very strong. At least based on the percentage of companies that beat earnings estimates, "very strong" couldn't be further from the truth. As shown below, 59.5% of the 2,132 US companies that reported this earnings season beat earnings estimates. This is by far the lowest quarterly "beat rate" reading of the bull market, and it's seven percentage points below the "beat rate" last quarter.