After some very strong years, multiple expansion in the S&P is struggling to contribute to returns in the index.  So far this year, P/E multiple expansion has only contributed 32% to S&P returns (top chart).  More reliance is being placed on top-line growth to deliver good overall equity returns.  However, as the bottom chart shows, estimated earnings often fall relative to trailing earnings as the year progresses, ie analysts always tend to start the year with overly-bullish earnings forecasts, then spend the rest of the year marking them down.  This year is no different.

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Source: Bloomberg and Variant Perception