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Corporate America’s Earnings Quality Is the Worst in Three Decades

  • S&P 500 operating cash flows trail profits by most on record
  • Almost a third of Russell 3000 firms struggle to make money
Bloomberg business news
Morgan Stanley's Wilson: Earnings Declines Aren't Over

In telling their stories about how the future is bright for stocks, bulls point to solid earnings to justify the optimism. But cracks are forming in that narrative — in the trajectory of profits, and just as worryingly in the makeup of the profits themselves. 

In a potentially ominous development, earnings across US industries have started to expand noticeably faster than cash is coming in the door. Income at S&P 500 companies, adjusted for amortization and depreciation, topped cash flows from operations by 14% in the year through September, according to data compiled by UBS Group AG that excludes the index’s financial and energy firms.