As of 1:20 p.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) is down 0.5%, or 64.5 points, to 12,945. The S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC ) is down 0.37% to 1,404.
The markets are down as Congress returns to session to negotiate the budget and hopefully avoid the fiscal cliff. Only seven of the Dow's 30 components are up at the halfway point of the day. Here are three fighting the downward slide.
Today's Dow leaders
Today's Dow leader is Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) , up 2.33%. After plummeting 12% last Monday when the company announced it would take an $8.8 billion writedown largely on its 2011 purchase of Autonomy, the company finished the week down just 6%. HP is accusing the selling executives of fraud, which Autonomy founder Mike Lynch wholeheartedly denies. He believes HP CEO Meg Whitman is doing this as "an attempt to set the bar so low that you can't possibly fail."
It's hard to believe, but this is the second multibillion-dollar writedown the company has taken this year. The first was the $8 billion writedown of HP's 2008 acquisition of Electronic Data Systems. HP has done a good job burning through shareholders' cash, and the stock price has reflected that, down 50% in the past year. Hopefully Meg Whitman can turn things around.
Coming in second is Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) , up 0.6%. Caterpillar is a cyclical company highly dependent on GDP growth for profitability. Last week, Caterpillar competitor Deere (NYSE: DE ) reported earnings that beat analyst expectations. At the same time, the equipment manufacturer reduced its outlook for growth going forward. While Deere gets just 30% of its revenue internationally, Caterpillar gets nearly 65% of its revenue from outside North America. While the North American market may be slowing, there are still huge pockets of growth around the world, and Caterpillar is in a great position to take advantage of that growth. Fool analyst Brendan Byrnes recently discussed three reasons to buy Caterpillar today. Click here for his take.
Also making gains today is Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) , up 0.41%. Last week Intel announced that its CEO of eight years, Paul Otellini, will step down in May, two years before he reached Intel's mandatory retirement age of 65. The stock stepped down almost 4% on the news but has since recovered half of that drop. Fool analyst Tim Brugger discussed what he thinks Otellini's resignation means for Intel. Click here for his take.
Don't go it alone
When it comes to dominating markets, it doesn't get much better than Intel's position in the PC microprocessor arena. However, that market is maturing, and Intel will find itself in a precarious long-term situation if it doesn't find new avenues for growth. In this premium research report on Intel, our analyst runs through all of the key topics investors should understand about the chip giant. Better yet, you'll continue to receive updates for an entire year. Click here now to learn more.