NEW YORK (AP) — Look for a lot of winners when companies report their first-quarter earnings.

The companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index have surpassed analysts' profit expectations for two years, or eight straight quarters. Some analysts say they will make it nine straight this earnings season, which begins Monday with a report from aluminum producer Alcoa Inc.

"The longer it persists, the more meaningful it is," said Adriana Posada, senior portfolio manager with American Beacon who oversees $18.8 billion in mutual fund and pension assets. "There's a lot more confidence that the economy is in fact improving when earnings continue to surprise" with better-than-expected results.

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