Great Earnings Spur the Dow

Good earnings from several blue-chip companies elevated the Dow above the day's mixed results. Before we take a closer look at a few stocks making news, including Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) after hours, let's review how the major indexes fared today.

Index

Gain / Loss

Gain / Loss %

Ending Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) 74.39 0.58% 13,001.56
Nasdaq (8.85) (0.30%) 2,961.60
S&P 500 5.03 0.37% 1,371.97

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

The Dow held on above 13,000 by its fingertips, as strong earnings from three components boosted it past the other two major indexes. One of those components was United Technologies (NYSE: UTX  ) , which saw a 24% gain in earnings -- $0.10 ahead of the consensus $1.21 per share -- after backing out discontinued operations. United Technologies traded up slightly, but another component, 3M (NYSE: MMM  ) , saw shares gain 1.6% after strength in Canada and Latin America contributed to a better than 4% rise in net income for the quarter.

However, concerns over Apple's after-hours quarterly results were largely responsible for the Nasdaq's underperformance, as the world's largest publicly traded company declined by 2%.

Those fears were largely stoked by AT&T (NYSE: T  ) , which beat analyst earnings estimates by 5%, sending the telecom's shares up 3.6%. What spooked Apple investors, however, was that iPhone sales suffered a pretty steep sequential drop at the country's largest carriers. AT&T saw a 43% sequential decline, while Verizon recorded a 24% drop, but that comparison is against the holiday sales boom. The iPhone is Apple's most important product, and based on those two domestic carriers, it appeared that Apple could be headed for a significant miss.

But Apple did it again. The company crushed analysts' estimates, ringing up a 5% increase in revenue and 92% in earnings, thanks to selling more than 35 million iPhones, itself an 88% increase and 5 million more units than estimated, as Apple reminded us that global markets are becoming increasingly important. Guidance for the current quarter is a little light, but it's likely a combination of this past quarter's success and some healthy sandbagging that has made a habit out of topping expectations.

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David Williamson owns shares of 3M, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple and 3M, creating a bull call spread position in Apple, and creating a diagonal call position in 3M. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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