AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinals“The nice thing about this quarter is that while the numbers continue to be good, it isn’t focused all on energy,” said Jeff Kleintop, chief investment strategist for PNC Financial Services Group in Philadelphia. “We’re seeing strength in industrials, retailers, telecom. Even health care had a decent quarter.”Furthermore, despite the belief of economists and market watchers that economic growth will start to decline as early as this quarter, fewer companies have issued profit warnings.According to Thomson, the ratio of negative to positive profit forecasts stands at 1.9-to-1 for the S&P 500 companies, and 1.5-to-1 for all companies that have reported first-quarter earnings. The historic average ratios stand at 2-to-1 for the S&P 500 and 2.2-to-1 for all companies.“Overall, we still expect annual earnings growth of about 8 percent year-over-year, and it’s likely we may edge that number up a little bit,” said Scott Wren, equity strategist for A.G. Edwards & Sons. “Yes, there’s some economic slowdown coming, but it’s really looking pretty good, all things considered.”Wren said high gasoline prices, which are expected to remain a long-term problem, won’t have a pronounced effect on consumer spending. With 70 percent or more of the economy based on consumer spending, there had been a concern that high energy prices would force consumers to curtail their purchasing habits. “Maybe if it gets to $6 per gallon, and I’m not saying it will, but maybe then we’ll see people cut back,” Wren said. “But right now, I just don’t see it.”Instead, the slowdown in corporate earnings will come from higher costs incurred by businesses, including higher energy costs. Companies will be hesitant to pass along their higher costs to consumers for fear of losing business in a competitive market.Yet despite a recent trend of higher dividends and increased share-buyback programs, companies are still investing their excess cash in new products and processes. Growth in capital spending has risen about 10 percent from last year, which is healthy, Kleintop said.Still, this could be the final quarter of double-digit profit growth as companies start to conform to their historic averages.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! NEW YORK – A surge in consumer spending helped corporate America achieve its 16th straight quarter of double-digit earnings growth, and even the return of $3-per-gallon gasoline hasn’t deterred companies from issuing upbeat forecasts for future quarters. As of Friday morning, with 423 companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index reporting earnings for the first quarter, 285, or 67 percent, beat Wall Street forecasts. An additional 66 companies, or 16 percent, matched expectations, while 72 companies, or 17 percent, failed to meet analysts’ estimates.The results extended a corporate winning streak: Over the past eight quarters, 66 percent of S&P 500 companies have beaten estimates, with 15 percent matching and 18 percent below estimates.The highlight of the quarter was ExxonMobil Corp. posting the fifth-highest quarterly profit in history, but other industries and sectors have outperformed as well. Earnings rose an average of 14 percent from a year ago, nearly double the historical average, according to Thomson Financial.