But don’t worry: Companies made money on an “operating” basis.
With results for the quarter now in from 98 per cent of companies that make up the S&P 500 index, the corporate sector suffered a net loss of $180bn, or $20.70 a share, as the severity of the recession and financial turmoil hit the bottom line.
It was the first loss since 1935, when S&P’s aggregate data begins…
The biggest previous collapse was in the second quarter of 2001, when reported earnings per share fell by 64.2 per cent.
Even on an operating earnings per share basis – analysts’ preferred measure of aggregate profits as it excludes exceptional items – US financial companies lost 13 times more than they made during the same period the previous year, according to Thomson Reuters data.
By this measure, overall S&P 500 fourth-quarter earnings dropped by more than two thirds from the same period a year earlier, while those European Stoxx 600 companies that have reported quarterly figures have thus far endured a 31.2 per cent decline.