WRAPUP 1-Strong banks, energy cos stand out in early earnings

Fri Jan 18, 2013 1:50pm EST
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* JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs post strong results

* Energy plays like GE, Schlumberger beat consensus

* Tech companies like Intel offer gloomier view

* Negative warnings far outstrip positive forecasts

By Ben Berkowitz

Jan 18 (Reuters) - If the latest week of earnings season has told investors anything, it is that strong banks and energy companies are getting stronger, while weaker banks and technology companies are far from conquering the challenges they have faced in the last few years.

Any sense of optimism for 2013 has to be tempered by a steady decline in earnings growth forecasts, as well as a recent rise in companies making mass layoffs in attempts to get costs further under control.

With U.S. economic growth anemic and the uncertainties of the "fiscal cliff" still reverberating, companies that went into the fourth quarter of 2012 with some sense of momentum seem to have kept that up, while those that were on the wrong foot to begin with did not get much help.

"The takeaway is that earnings appear to be mimicking the economic recovery," said Tom Sowanick, co-president and chief investment officer at Omnivest Group LLC.   Continued...