After nearly every football game, coaches for the losing teams try to ease the sting of a loss by detailing some positive takeaways.

These very same coaches, however, also know that over time the numbers do not lie. And so it is for corporate earnings.

With earnings report season largely complete, assessing the winners and losers through three quarters is a useful exercise that can offer some hint of the potential for the final quarter.

According to FactSet, the blended third-quarter earnings growth rate for the S&P 500 was 2.2%, which would be the lowest earnings growth rate since the third quarter of 2020. In addition, 55 S&P 500 companies issued negative earnings guidance and 27 issued positive earnings-per-share (EPS) guidance. The earnings surprise and beat rates were below average.

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