The thing about the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) is that when its highest-priced stocks tank, it threatens the entire average. That's what happened today, when IBM (NYSE:IBM) disappointed investors with its third-quarter earnings report and tanked around 5%. The more-than-$10 drop in IBM shares singlehandedly created an 80-point drag on the Dow, making it severely underperform broader market measures. Yet by the close, the Dow managed to eke out a 5-point gain on the session.
Several strong performances from Dow stocks helped out the average. Alcoa's (NYSE:AA) cheap share price prevents it from having much impact either way, but its gain of more than 2.5% was the biggest percentage rise among the Dow 30. With the gain, the company wiped out its drop after it announced earnings last week, as investors are taking increasingly aggressive positions that assume that the economy will continue to improve.
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) climbed to a four-year high, rising 2%. The move followed up on its gains from yesterday after its third-quarter earnings release. With the company beating estimates on both income and revenue, it's tempting to conclude that J&J's worst problems could be behind it. But even with the gains, the stock has badly lagged the S&P 500 over the past year.
Finally, Disney (NYSE:DIS) picked up about 2% as well. With tens of millions of viewers tuning in to watch the presidential debates, Disney and its fellow media outlets stand to earn plenty of money in advertising from political campaigns this quarter. With even Disney's sports powerhouse ESPN getting in on the campaign money train with a deal earlier this year to provide more political spots during football games, there's clearly big money involved, and Disney plans to grab its share of it.
Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. You can follow him on Twitter, @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool owns shares of Disney, IBM, and Johnson & Johnson. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Johnson & Johnson and Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.