After two years of skyrocketing growth, oil and gas earnings are now past their peak. The good thing for the stocks is that the peak was remarkably high, and the decline is likely to be very gradual.
Bank of America estimates that fourth-quarter earnings for oil and gas producers, which start reporting results this week, will be down 11% from third-quarter levels. The biggest U.S. names,
(ticker: XOM) and
(CVX), are planning to announce earnings on Friday. They’re both expected to grow earnings per share by more than 50% from a year ago, but post a decline from third-quarter levels.