Earnings Reports Send the Dow Higher

By all appearances, stocks are having a relatively ho-hum day, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) up an unexciting 49 points, or 0.36%, in afternoon trading. But don't let this fool you, as today's trading session is sandwiched between this morning's bevy of blue-chip earnings releases and a slew of tech company reports due after the closing bell.

Of the four Dow components to report earnings this morning, only pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ  ) is lower in intraday trading. For the quarter, the company earned $2.57 billion, or $0.91 per share, compared with $218 million, or $0.08 per share, in the year-ago period. Excluding one-time items in both quarters, Johnson & Johnson would have earned $1.19 per share over 2011's $1.13 per share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters were expecting unadjusted per-share earnings of $1.17 -- significantly higher than the actual results.

Of the other three companies to report -- DuPont, Travelers (NYSE: TRV  ) , and Verizon -- Travelers is doing the best today, up about 2.3%. While the property-insurance company reported a staggering 51% decrease in quarterly net income, this was nevertheless better than what analysts feared, given the extent of liability Travelers faced in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

The big question now is how technology giants IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) and Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) will perform after the bell. With respect to IBM, analysts will be watching both its top and bottom lines. Revenue at the technology giant fell in the third quarter by 5% to $25.3 billion, while net income was flat at $3.8 billion.

Meanwhile, average analyst estimates for Google call for earnings of $10.52 per share on $12.3 billion in revenue. The last time Google reported earnings, analysts were off considerably due to an unexpectedly large loss in Google's mobile-phone operation, Motorola Mobility.

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