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Earnings are up, expectations are being beaten and the gloom is lifting from the market as Australia's listed companies turn in their best results in three years.

Analysis at Deutsche Bank say the February reporting season has been the best in years, with 58 per cent of companies beating expectations for earnings in the second half of 2013.

The outperformance has been particularly impressive because there were few of the downgrades that have characterised the "confession season" that has preceded results reports in recent years.

Deutsche Bank equities strategist Tim Baker estimated that, with 77 per cent of companies reported, earnings for the half year are up 12 per cent on the previous corresponding period, with the gains across a broad range of businesses.

"Whether it's resources, banks or industrials it's 10 percent-plus earnings growth," Mr Baker said at a media briefing.

The encouraging figures set the scene for a rise in investment activity.

Head of research sales for Deutsche Bank, Glenn Morgan, said the mood among institutional investors has changed.

"The clients have stopped asking us `where is the risk?' and they've started asking `where is the opportunity?'," he said.

Stock markets are reflecting the mood, with the S&P/ASX200 up nearly five per cent in February.

With reporting season almost complete, Deutsche Bank took the pulse of Australia's listed companies and the assessment yields five key ideas.

1. Resource companies have done surprisingly well.

Since resource companies started filing quarterly production reports in January, the signs have been encouraging.

Companies in every commodity have done better than expected, Mr Morgan said.

"The production reports were, with a very small series of exceptions, very good," he said.

The reasons are that miners have caught up with demand, have gotten over the slump in prices of a year ago and have cut costs.

2. Bank stocks still have potential to grow.

"Banks' underlying earnings are still growing pretty well," Mr Morgan said.

"They are also generating a lot of capital."

Institutional investors are underweight on banks at present, Mr Morgan said.

"They're watching very carefully to make sure nothing goes terribly right and that sector runs away from them."

3. Housing is happening.

Cyclical industrial stocks are rising because there is more housing sector activity.

Boral, BlueScope Steel and realestate.com.au are among companies that reported encouraging earnings and outlook.

Boral has added 17 per cent in sharemarket value in February.

"We saw a pretty good set of numbers that suggested that the sector that often leads the economy out of trouble is actually starting to turn around," Mr Morgan said.

4. Think laterally: freight and logistics companies do well when people start spending.

Mr Baker said Toll and Asciano are placed to benefit as imports and freight movements pick up.

"Those two stocks are cheaper than the retail and consumer plays, they are also a broader-based consumer spending exposure," he said.

Australian companies are also generally holding low inventories, meaning a restocking is going to be needed.

5. Dividends are done.

After years of yield-chasing by investors, companies no longer feel the need to hand cash back by way of fat dividends and are instead looking to invest in their business.

"Pure yield plays aren't really the place to be," Mr Baker said.

"We're more interested in the companies that can generate some earnings growth."