Close this search box.
Blog » Money Tips » The #1 Driver of Stock Prices…

The #1 Driver of Stock Prices…

Posted on July 31st, 2023
current stock trends

All right, Life Goal Nation! Earnings majorly drive stock prices, and as we are in the heart of the Q2 earnings season, it is crucial to understand the broader picture of earnings and how they affect the market.

This article will provide an overview of the results of the S&P 500 constituents during this earnings season and discuss why stocks are performing the way they are. We will also consider the factors contributing to changes in earnings growth. In addition, we will examine what the future could hold for market valuations and investor sentiment.


Earnings Season So Far

About 51% of the S&P 500 companies have reported their Q2 earnings, revealing some interesting insights. On average, year-over-year earnings are down by 7.3%; however, this downturn doesn’t necessarily conflict with the rising stock market we’ve observed lately. These results are better than the market’s expectations, as 80% of the reporting companies surpassed their earnings estimates. In some way, the pessimistic outlook at the outset allowed companies to outperform expectations and possibly contributed to upbeat investor sentiment.

See Also: How to Get Excited About Work Against During a Rut

Earnings Vs. Sales

Although earnings have taken a hit, sales seem to be faring better, with an average growth of 0.01% for S&P 500 companies. The downturn in earnings doesn’t stem from a lack of sales but rather from increasing input costs, such as raw materials and labor. On average, the cost of the workforce has gone up by 4.4% within the past year, putting pressure on profit margins and weighing down earnings.

Factors Pushing Stocks Higher

Two major factors help account for why stocks continue to rise despite the downturn in earnings. First, the better-than-expected earnings growth (-7.3%) provides a silver lining for investors who initially had lower expectations. Second, the market currently pays a premium for each dollar of company earnings. Over the past 25 years, the market paid an average of $16.78 per dollar of earnings, whereas now it is paying $19.57 – a significant increase attributable to positive investor sentiment or ‘animal spirits.’

Animal Spirits and the Stock Market

The concept of ‘animal spirits,’ coined by John Maynard Keynes, refers to the psychological factors influencing investor decisions and driving market activity. A surge in animal spirits often occurs during optimistic outlooks, leading investors to pay a premium for market earnings, as seen with the current $19.57 valuation. This idea raises the question of whether or not these feelings will keep the market trading at a premium valuation or if some sort of catalyst might alter this sentiment.

FAQ – Understanding the Q2 Earnings Season and Its Impact on the Stock Market

Q1: What is the significance of earnings in determining stock prices?

A1: Earnings play a crucial role in influencing stock prices. As companies report their earnings, investors assess their financial health and growth potential. Upbeat earnings results often lead to higher stock prices, while disappointing earnings can result in stock price declines.

Q2: What is the current status of the Q2 earnings season for the S&P 500 companies?

A2: Approximately 51% of the S&P 500 companies have reported their Q2 earnings. On average, year-over-year gains are down by 7.3%. However, it’s important to note that these results are still better than the market had anticipated, with 80% of reporting companies surpassing their earnings estimates.

Q3: Why are stocks continuing to rise despite the downturn in earnings?

A3: Two significant factors contribute to the stock market’s resilience amid the earnings downturn. First, the earnings growth of -7.3% is better than expected, providing a positive outlook for investors initially with lower expectations. Second, the market is paying a premium for each dollar of company earnings, with a current valuation of $19.57 per dollar compared to the historical average of $16.78. This premium is attributed to positive investor sentiment or what is known as ‘animal spirits.’

Q4: How do ‘animal spirits influence investor decisions and the stock market?

A4: Coined by economist John Maynard Keynes, ‘animal spirits’ refer to the psychological factors that impact investor decisions and drive market activity. During periods of optimistic outlooks, investors tend to pay a premium for market earnings, as seen in the current $19.57 valuation. These positive sentiments can influence stock prices and overall market performance.

Q5: Why have earnings declined while sales are showing growth?

A5: The decline in earnings is not due to a lack of sales. On the contrary, sales are still growing, with an average growth of 0.01% for S&P 500 companies. The downturn in earnings is primarily attributed to increasing input costs, such as raw materials and labor, which have risen by an average of 4.4% within the past year. These higher costs put pressure on profit margins and subsequently impact earnings.

Q6: How might future developments impact stock market performance and investor sentiment?

A6: The future outlook for the stock market remains uncertain. Factors such as increasing input costs, other challenges, or investor sentiment changes could alter the current optimistic narrative. It is essential for investors to closely monitor the progress of the earnings season and other developments to gauge what lies ahead for the stock market.

Q7: Should investors be concerned about the stock market’s performance in the face of declining earnings?

A7: While the current Q2 earnings season has shown positive surprises and higher valuations, investors should remain cautious. Various factors could influence the stock market’s performance in the future. Diversification and staying informed about market dynamics are prudent strategies for navigating potential uncertainties.

Q8: How can investors prepare for potential changes in the stock market’s trajectory?

A8: Staying informed and conducting thorough research is crucial. Investors should closely monitor company earnings reports, market trends, and economic indicators. Diversifying their investment portfolios can also help mitigate risks and respond effectively to changing market conditions.

Q9: When will the Q2 earnings season conclude, and what should investors watch for afterward?

A9: The Q2 earnings season typically lasts several weeks, and most companies will have reported their results by the end of the season. Afterward, investors should closely observe any shifts in investor sentiment, the market’s response to earnings data, and potential macroeconomic indicators that may impact stock prices in the coming months.

Q10: Where can investors access information about earnings reports and market developments?

A10: Investors can access earnings reports and market updates through financial news outlets, company websites, and reliable financial data platforms. Consulting with financial advisors can also provide valuable insights tailored to individual investment goals and risk tolerances.


Based on the Q2 earnings season results so far, it appears companies have exceeded the market’s lowered expectations. This phenomenon, coupled with the market’s payment of premium valuations, seems to evoke a positive outlook and an optimistic sentiment among investors. Consequently, the stock market continues to perform well despite the downturn in earnings.

The big question, however, is whether these results and positive sentiment will continue to drive stocks in the future. Factors such as increasing input costs and the emergence of other challenges could change the optimistic narrative and alter investor sentiment. Thus, it remains essential for investors to keep track of various developments, including the progress of the earnings season, to determine what might lie ahead for the stock market.

Taylor Sohns MBA, CIMA®, CFP®

Taylor Sohns MBA, CIMA®, CFP®

Taylor Sohns is the Co-Founder at LifeGoal Wealth Advisors. He received his MBA in Finance. He currently has his Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) and a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). Taylor has spent decades on Wall Street helping create wealth.

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.


Top Trending Posts

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More