Stock prices tend to follow corporate earnings. When profits rise, the stock market usually performs well. When profits fall precipitously, bear markets ensue. With this in mind, it is little surprise that stocks have struggled to make gains over the past 12 months. S&P 500 corporate earnings have declined 1%. However, weakness largely comes down to the energy sector, with profits outside of energy rising by about 6%. This suggests that corporate America is in even better shape than headlines earnings numbers suggest, which provides a backbone of support for U.S. stocks.