Good or bad surprises might prompt you to reconsider stocks you own

It’s easy for me to complain each quarter about how Wall Street misleads investors with its game of “beating” earnings estimates. But there’s no question that major earnings (or sales) surprises can drive big moves in share prices.

That’s when it might be a good idea to reevaluate your opinion of a stock. Should you sell after an earnings surprise causes shares to soar? Has a stock fallen too far after bad news, creating a buying opportunity?

We’ve put together four lists of companies that have posted major surprises this earnings season.

First, some points about the data: Not every company has a fiscal quarter that matches the calendar quarter. It can seem that it’s always earnings season. So we had to make a decision on the earliest fiscal quarter-end date to include in this data set. Through Nov. 7, 429 of the companies in the S&P 500 Index SPX, -0.09%  had announced results for fiscal quarters ending Aug. 26 or later.

One more decision we made is that companies that were expected to lose money during the quarter were only included in the “positive surprise” list if they showed a profit.

Four lists of surprises
Earnings up

Among the 429 S&P 500 companies that announced their results through Nov. 7, here are the 10 that surprised analysts the most, to the upside, for earnings per share this earnings season:

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