Why Earnings Will Mostly Be "Better Than Expected"
The case of Alcoa illustrates this. Until recently, the average official forecast was for quarterly per share earnings of about 20 cents, but the report showed a profit of only 7 cents per share. But since forecasts had been reduced to 6 cents just before the report, the headline still said "better than expected".
Why is this done? Because the companies producing these estimates have an economic interest in making people buy stocks. And by presenting most reports as "better than expected" while producing extremely over optimistic forecasts about the future, they hope to make people wanna buy those stocks, hoping that people won't notice how they almost always quietly lower these forecasts shortly before the reports.