SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz

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IBM, Microsoft, McDonald, Starbucksand Procter & Gambleare part of Zacks Earnings Preview:

CHICAGO, Jan. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks.com releases the list of companies likely to issue earnings surprises. This week's list includes IBM (NYSE:IBM-Free Report), Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT-Free Report), McDonald (NYSE:MCD-Free Report), Starbucks (Nasdaq:SBUX-Free Report) and Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG-Free Report).

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Companies Struggling to Meet Expectations

The bulk of the 2013 Q4 earnings reports thus far have been from the Finance sector, but the reporting cycle ramps up materially this week, with almost 200 companies including 69 S&P 500 members reporting results. We will get results from a diverse group of bellwethers from industries, ranging from IBM (NYSE:IBM-Free Report) and Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT-Free Report) to McDonald's (NYSE:MCD-Free Report), Starbucks (Nasdaq:SBUX-Free Report) and Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG-Free Report).  

The Finance centric results thus far indicate that companies are struggling to exceed the lowered earnings and expectations. The beat ratios, both for earnings and revenues, are weaker relative to what we would typically see at this stage of the reporting cycle. The growth picture looks good on surface, but a lot of that is due to easy comparisons.

It is hard to take a definitive feel for the guidance picture at this stage as we haven't seen that many earnings reports outside of the Finance sector and banks typically don't provide guidance. But the overall trend among the few non-financial companies continues to be towards negative guidance. The hope has been that the recent uptrend economic fundamentals will start showing up in improved management commentary that will stem the persistent downward revision trend in earnings estimates. We will know more this week, but recent results don't inspire much confidence on that front.

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