Strong Earnings in the Early Parts of 2013 Drive S&P Index to Five Year High

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Feb 19, 2013) - The S&P 500 Index has continued its surge throughout this earnings and has topped the 1500 mark for the first time in five years. The S&P Index has posted a gain of nearly 7 percent year-to-date. Five Star Equities examines the outlook for companies in the S&P 500 Index and provides equity research on McDonald's Corporation ( NYSE : MCD ) and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. ( NYSE : WMT ).

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Signs of an improving U.S. economy combined with a relatively strong earnings season has helped fuelled the S&P Index's rally in the early parts of 2013. Of the 354 companies in the S&P 500 Index that have reported earnings this year approximately 74 percent have exceeded profit projections, according to data from Bloomberg.

"The early months of any year are often seasonally strong for the stock market, and this year was no exception," said Lawrence Creatura, portfolio manager at Federated Investors, which oversees $380 billion. "The important question is, were those gains earned? Based on the earnings results that we've gotten so far, it seems as though they were."

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Shares of McDonald's Corp. have gained 6.45 percent year-to-date. For the fourth quarter of 2012 the company reported earnings of $1.4 billion, or $1.38 per share, compared to earnings of $1.38 billion, or $1.33 per share a year prior. Analysts had projected earnings of $1.33 per share, according to estimates from Bloomberg. McDonald's currently offers investors an annual dividend of $3.08 per share for a dividend yield of approximately 3.3 percent.

Shares of Wal-Mart fell last Friday after a Bloomberg article reported the company same-store sales in February have been a "total disaster", citing internal e-mails which were obtained by Bloomberg News. The company is scheduled to release results for the fourth quarter on February 21st. Wal-Mart currently offers investors an annual dividend of $1.59 per share for a dividend yield of approximately 2.3 percent.

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