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Miles D. White

Earnings down but not out

Earnings down but not out

Only two months ago, people were wondering if they should yank money from bleeding investments in 401(k)s and IRAs and run for cover as the stock market went into a nasty swoon.

Now, it's as though that 11 percent plunge never happened. Stocks are back, courtesy — in part — of a more gentle earnings season than was predicted.

It's not that corporate profits have been great. Currently, with 340 of 500 Standard & Poor's stocks done reporting, profits are on course to decline 2.2 percent for the quarter, according to FactSet.

But the decline is not as bad as investors feared when they were cowering in August or at the end of September, when analysts were...