Killer Earnings Propel Dow

People call corporate America a lot of things. Depending on who you're talking to and when you're talking to them, big businesses are job creators or the core reason jobs are going overseas; a boon or a burden to society; skilled capitalists offering a better quality of life or greedy hordes of Gordon Gekkos swindling the average man.

Either way, corporate America is undeniably one thing: profitable. For the fifth time in as many days, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) advanced on Friday, spurred by impressive results from major companies. The Dow rose 70 points, or 0.51%, to close the week at 13,895.

Results from consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG  ) helped drive this blue-chip advance. Not typically known for large intraday swings in its stock price, P&G added 4% Friday after the company more than doubled quarterly profits, raised earnings forecasts, and improved margins. Elated investors bid up the stock, hopeful that the surge in the generally low-growth business indicates a more secular pickup in the macroeconomy. 

On the other end of the spectrum today, Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT  ) lost 1.1% ahead of its own earnings announcement next week. One reason for the decline may be due to revelations of "accounting misconduct" from a Chinese manufacturer of mine roofs it acquired last June. For everyone's sake, I hope the manufacturer's product is better than its math. 

Another household name, Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX  ) , reported outsized growth on Friday, and investors rushed to buy the stock after hearing the news. Not only does caffeine remain addictive, but so does Starbucks, apparently -- comparable-store sales growth, margin expansion, and high-growth goals amounted to a triple shot of Wall Street exuberance, fueling today's 4.1% surge. 

Finally, energy giant Halliburton (NYSE: HAL  ) reported record quarterly revenue and strong international results, and shares rallied more than 5% in response. While company margins contracted, promising activity in Asia boosted the stock, as earnings surpassed expectations. Latin America and the Middle East also look like areas of excitement for the oil magnate moving forward. 


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