What to Watch Today as Earnings Season Kicks Off

It's earnings season! This is one of the four times each year when investors have the chance to see how their portfolio companies are performing relative to Wall Street's expectations. With a lack of market-moving economic data on the table this week, expect investor focus to fall on this first wave of reports in order to gauge the private sector's resiliency to the economic events of the past few months. As we approach our first reports, here's a glance at where U.S. futures markets stood as of this writing.

Futures Index

Gain/Loss

Gain/Loss %

Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  )  (54)  (0.4%) 12,673
S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC  )  (5) (0.4%) 1,346

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

This earnings season is of particular interest to investors, given the spike in earnings warnings that have occurred in previous weeks as companies admitted to their struggles amid the current global economic turmoil. One of the more notable negative preannouncements was from Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG  ) , which cut organic sales growth estimates by 2% for the current quarter following market-share losses and an inability to pass along price increases successfully. Investors will have to wait until Aug. 3 to find out where results actually ended up, and they'll also receive an update on the company's fiscal 2013 guidance.

Batter up!
Leading off for Dow components is aluminum producer Alcoa (NYSE: AA  ) , which releases earnings after the market closes today. With aluminum prices sitting near two-year lows, Alcoa's smelting unit has been hurting, while its fabrication business, which provides specialized aluminum for the likes of Ford (NYSE: F  ) , has been performing nicely, given the tailwind provided by the world's automakers. According to some estimates, shipments of aluminum from the U.S. to auto industry customers will rise by more than 15% this year. According to our industrials analyst in this premium report on Ford, we can expect that kind of growth to persist, thanks to a number of factors moving in the company's favor.

On the other hand, Alcoa's struggles in its smelting unit reflect the difficulties of operating a commodity business, where there is only so much a company can do in response to supply-and-demand imbalances. Another route investors can take is finding companies with an innovative product that has few competitors. In this special free report, "Discover the Next Rule-Breaking Multibagger," our analysts outline one such company that is changing the way business is done for its customers. Find out the name of this company today, completely free of charge, by clicking here now.

At the time of this writing Brenton Flynn owned shares of Procter & Gamble. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford Motor. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Ford Motor and Procter & Gamble. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a synthetic long position in Ford Motor. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not 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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