Brace Yourself Quarterly Earnings Aren't Half Bad

If you're feeling malicious and want to cause a panic, just stand in the middle of Wall Street and shout: "Surprise!" For the past two years, that word usually has been preceded by the dread phrase "negative earnings"--Wallspeak for profits that aren't up to snuff. Depending on how far the actual profits come in below expectations, a stock can go into a tailspin.

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