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CFRA Research strategist warns of one pitfall

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It’s the countdown to the second-quarter earnings season.

The big banks dominate the calendar in coming days, with JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Bank of America all reporting on their recent quarter.

Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research, said investors should brace themselves — this one will be a doozy.

“I think what we’re going to be seeing is the second-best year-on-year quarterly gain in the last 25 years, second only to what we saw in the fourth quarter of 2009, since S&P 500 earnings are expected to be almost 61% this quarter,” Stovall told CNBC’s “Trading Nation” on Friday.

For some sectors, the three-month stretch could be remarkably strong. Financials, for example, are expected to see a 115% increase in profit. Industrial earnings are forecast to have risen 330% and consumer discretionary 152%.  

But with expectations so high, S&P 500 companies have a lofty bar to clear, and good results may not be good enough, said Stovall.

“Where will the beats come in? … There’s not a lot of room for error, not a lot of margin for disappointment,” he said. “Investors need to be careful about expecting too much of an increase out of the earnings reports. Really, the question is: What kind of growth are we going to see in coming quarters?”

Stovall expects those companies that disappoint to be “taken to task for it” given how much the good news has already been priced into the stock market. He said valuations look fairly stretched at this point. The S&P 500 trades at just under 22 times forward earnings and hit a record high as recently as Friday.

“I don’t think investors are going to stick around very long with those companies that disappoint. They’re going to gravitate toward those that do beat and give the impression that they will likely do so for the rest of the year,” said Stovall.

Aside from the financials, other notable companies such as PepsiCo, ConAgra, Delta and UnitedHealth are set to report this week.

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