Tickers in this Article: AAPL, CPWR, ORCL, AMZN, SYMC
Though the Q2 earnings horse race is far from over, were it to end now, the tech sector would be the hands down winner. Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL) carried more than its fair share of the weight again, with an 83% improvement in year-over-year revenue growth and a 95% increase in profits last quarter, but it wasn't just Apple. (For more on the tech industry, check out A Primer On Investing In The Tech Industry.)

Of the 74 technology companies in the S&P 500, 29 have already posted Q2 results. The list includes the likes of high-profile database service provider Oracle (Nasdaq:ORCL), which beat last quarter's per-share earnings estimates of 71 cents by four cents, all the way down to relatively obscure Compuware (Nasdaq:CPWR), which beat its forecasted EPS of 7 cents per share by a penny. But what about the group as a whole?

Not Bad At All
Of the 29 technology names reporting in, 24 have topped estimates, 4 have met estimates and one has fallen short. Overall, the tech sector's earnings have improved 32.6% on a year-over-year basis, which is second only to the basic materials group's 70.6% improvement in earnings last quarter (and that 70% increase was from a low comparable).

Assuming the other two-thirds of the sector is experiencing what the first third has, then this all bodes quite well for the remaining 45 companies that have yet to report.

The next big tech name to do so will be Amazon.com (Nasdaq:AMZN) on Tuesday. Analysts expect to see a profit of 35 cents per share, but it's worth noting the online retailer has gone 50/50 on earning estimates over the past four quarters. (Yes, it's technically billed as a consumer services name. However, for the same reason Apple is in the technology sector, so too should Amazon be.)

Symantec (Nasdaq:SYMC) - which isn't actually an S&P 500 constituent but is an important technology barometer all the same - will report last quarter's results on Wednesday. Symantec is forecasted to show a per-share profit of 37 cents, but has a recent history of strong earnings beats.

Gratuitous Details
For some investors, the fact that the technology sector is rocking is enough to make a buy/sell decisions. For others, pinpointing the leaders and laggards makes a world of difference.

To that end, it's the semiconductors that have been problematic. This group has supplied the only earnings miss so far for the tech sector and has actually averaged a 3.9% decline in year-over-year earnings. The hardware and equipment cluster (which includes Apple) has generated an average 76.7% improvement in year-over-year income. Even taking Apple out of the mix leaves behind some encouraging numbers though. Software and related services haven't done too badly either, with an average profit improvement of 24.5% last quarter.

Bottom Line
We're only about a third of the way there, but if the early results for the sector are any clue - and they usually are - then there's at least something to look forward to here. (For more on earnings, read Earnings Power Drives Stocks.)

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