Hello. This is James Mayer from the Huffman Mayer Paolo Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors. Spring is right around the corner. And while that may bring rain, as I like to say, you don't have to shovel rain. Here are three things that happen in February that we think are important.
According to Bloomberg, the pace of COVID vaccinations in the United States is expected to accelerate meaningfully over the next few months with Bloomberg estimating the rate of weekly vaccinations will double over the next two months and continue to grow beyond that. Case counts have now dropped for six consecutive weeks. Some medical experts are beginning to speculate that the pandemic could be mostly behind us by sometime in April of 2021. According to FactSet, 75% of companies have reported their fourth quarter results. Things are looking up. So far, the average company grew its earnings by 2.9%. If that number holds up, it will represent the first growth in earnings since the fourth quarter of 2019.
So far, 80% of reporting companies have generated better than expected earnings, which would also be one of the better quarters on record. According to Morningstar, positive surprises have translated to positive total returns for investors. Through February 18th, the S&P 500 was up 4.4%, although the biggest gains year-to-date have come from small and emerging market companies. Over that same span, shares in small cap companies appreciated by 13.4%, and shares in emerging market stocks gained 10.4% when you include their dividends. We would like to talk to you. If you have questions about your investments or your plan, please call the office to schedule a time for us to talk or a Zoom meeting. As always, please stay safe, stay healthy, stay happy. And hopefully, we will see you very soon.