As the markets wait for news from across the pond, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) average is higher today. As of 12:30 p.m. EDT, the index sits at 13493, up 80.11 points, or 0.6%. The S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) is up by 0.9%, while the Nasdaq moves into the green by 1.15%.
Unfortunately, not all stocks are helping the Dow higher. Three in particular are holding the index down: United Technologies (NYSE: UTX ) , Boeing (NYSE: BA ) , and Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG ) .
So why are they down?
Although United Technologies' chief financial officer stated that the company expects solid earnings growth next year, shares are down by 0.64%. First the company reaffirmed its 2012 profit forecast of $5.25 to $5.35 a share but did not provide an EPS figure for 2013. Then the conglomerate lowered its economic growth forecast in areas which it operates. The U.S. growth forecast was cut by a half a percentage point, settling at 1.8%. The company believes Western Europe's growth will be flat, when previous estimates marked growth at 1.6%. Those two areas of the world represent 61% of United Technologies' sales. China, India, and Japan also have been revised lower.
Domestic aircraft manufacturer Boeing is trading lower by 0.65% following news that the European Union is requesting the World Trade Organization the right to impose trade sanctions on the U.S. in response to illegal subsidies given to Boeing. The EU is fighting for Boeing's European rival Airbus in a dispute which dates back more than seven years. The WTO has previously ruled that both companies received billions of dollars in illegal subsides to support their civil aircraft programs. The U.S. claims the handouts have stopped, a move the EU wants. Investors would rather see the U.S. continue the subsides, making it easier for the company to turn a profit.
Finally, news broke late yesterday that activist investor Willaim Ackman is pressing for Robert McDonald, the chairman and chief executive of Procter & Gamble, to be removed from both roles. During a meeting in which a number of P&G board members were present, Ackman clearly stated his disapproval for the company's leader. Since the meeting took place on Sept. 4, there have been no changes in top management at P&G. The stock is trading lower by 0.19%.
United Technologies' purported ability to provide solid earnings growth next year despite slowing economic growth reminds me of the old saying, "Take it with a grain of salt." On the same token, investors are often wrong about what a company should or shouldn't do. An activist investor can be wrong about calling for a change in management. Don't base your investing thesis on these types of stories. In Boeing's case, watch margins and even tax rates over the next few months to see how the lack of subsidies affects the company's ability to turn a profit.
The decisions the government makes affect millions of businesses throughout the U.S. To learn about a few that could see shares skyrocketing after the election, simply click here.