October wasn't the best month for the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) , as its drop of about 2.5% broke a four-month winning streak. Yet for a few of the Dow's components, October was a whole lot harsher, and those hard-hit companies will be hoping that November brings them at least some signs of a recovery.
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) was the big loser for the month of October, dropping nearly 19%. The company gave investors bad news near the beginning of the month, when HP had to reduce its outlook for fiscal 2013. With adjusted earnings falling roughly $0.60 to $0.80 per share below where analysts had expected, HP's stock plunged. Given the lack of confidence investors have had in CEO Meg Whitman's slow turnaround strategy, as well as concerns about the decline of PC popularity, HP needs to move quickly if it wants to regain any of its lost ground.
DuPont (NYSE: DD ) , on the other hand, was a bit of a surprise, falling 11% last month. Blaming reductions in infrastructure spending in China, DuPont saw revenue fall 9% in the third quarter compared with the year-ago period, and that sent shares tumbling the day after its earnings report. Job cuts and other savings could help DuPont boost its bottom line, but what it really needs is a true recovery in the global economy to drive sales going forward.
Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO ) declined almost 10% in October. Although Cisco doesn't report earnings until November, collateral damage from Juniper Networks, which said in its quarterly report that it saw no likelihood of spending improvement in the next year or so, sent Cisco's stock tumbling in sympathy. Still, as a leader in its industry, Cisco is arguably even better positioned to benefit from the inevitable uptick in IT infrastructure spending when it finally materializes.
Finally, General Electric (NYSE: GE ) sank 7% in October. Fears about a global economic slowdown are especially relevant for GE's energy business, which performs best during periods of strong economic activity that drive energy use.As with many other multinationals, GE's earnings suffered from currency impacts, but the euro has started gaining back ground against the dollar, and those impacts could therefore be short-lived.
Place your bets
Of all these stocks, I think General Electric has the best chance to rebound the quickest. If governments and central banks around the world find ways to stimulate the economy, GE stands to benefit the most with its wide variety of businesses.
But if you're looking to be a GE investor, you need to understand how recent bets in energy and mining could drive this company to become the world's infrastructure leader. At the same time, you need to be aware of the threats to GE's portfolio. To help, we're offering comprehensive coverage for investors in a premium report on General Electric, in which our industrials analyst breaks down GE's multiple businesses. You'll find reasons to buy or sell GE, and you'll receive continuing updates as major events unfold during the year. To get started, click here now.