Bear in mind that a company’s performance against earnings estimates is a negligible factor in the long-term prognosis for its stock. A study by the McKinney consultancy found that firms that miss forecasts by 1% saw a share price decrease of just 0.2% in the days after the announcement. “Even consistently beating or meeting consensus estimates over several years does not matter, once differences in companies’ growth and operating performance are taken into account,” the paper found.

But opportunities for trading earnings reports go way up in a market as volatile as this. In the S&P 500, the average stock has swung in a 45% range in the past month. Entry and exit points are coming fast and furious in a market that saw its fastest 30% plunge ever, and also one of the quickest rebounds.

Three more investors on the opportunity:

Jeff Klingelhofer, co-head of investments and portfolio manager at Thornburg Investment Management: “We are active managers, we are fundamental bottom-up managers. This environment actually benefits us, but also similar shops. When you do have high earnings dispersion, it’s ultimately the ability of individuals and groups to come together, act in a collaborative fashion, express a view and ultimately hopefully be on the right side. What we had been doing is upgrading portfolios, taking advantage of the broad market sell-off to buy good quality companies, free cash-flow positive, relatively low debt levels that we believe will emerge on the other side.”

Gene Goldman, chief investment officer at Cetera Financial Group: “It’s a huge opportunity. I’ve been saying active managers are going to come back eventually. You need to see a more frothy, volatile market and international outperforming the U.S. and we’re starting to see that. A larger bigger firm with vast infrastructure will do well. It’s their access to research, they are not indiscriminately buying the entire index, they’re getting more information. With their grassroots research, active managers are going to do really well in this environment.”

Mike Stritch, chief investment officer for BMO Wealth Management: “For us it’s all about distribution of outcomes, weighting anything that can help us narrow down the probability, these are the possible trajectories they could take. From that work, that’s how we’ve been trying to gauge relative value and attractiveness of the stock market, as opposed to taking one view that this is the company’s estimate. For us it’s all about scenario analysis.”

The set-up is a welcome one for stock-picking funds that have had a hard time proving themselves amid the worst quarter for the S&P 500 since 2008. Less than half of actively managed funds beat their benchmarks in the first quarter, according to data compiled by Jefferies. Forceful selling pushed everything lower together, sending correlations between stocks to the highest levels since 2007 -- a hard environment to thrive in.

But if past is any precedent, better days are to come. According to Jefferies’ Steven DeSanctis, active managers performed well “for an extended period of time” coming out of the dot-com bust and the financial crisis.

An earnings season with a lack of consensus could speed things up.

“The market will continue to be very confused -- we’re always looking to find signals versus noise,” said Erika Karp, founder and CEO of Cornerstone Capital Group. “With any company guidance, they are telling everybody the same thing at the same time. If you want to get an investment edge, company guidance doesn’t buy you anything.”