Earnings season is in full swing, and a full third of the companies on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) are set to report last quarter's data this week. From consumer-goods giants such as Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) to health-care staples such as Johnson & Johnson, seemingly every sector of the blue-chip index is on pace to capture investors' attention in the next few days. Let's look at what you should be watching out for as America's most prominent stocks face their biggest test of 2013.
What should you look out for?
The Dow's week of earnings starts off with Tuesday's slate, as Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), Coke, and J&J report on their most recent quarters. Intel's had a tough time recently with the PC market's decline, and analyst expectations for both the company's revenue and earnings are down from a year ago. The company's done its best to diversify, reaching out to the fast-growing mobile market while advancing into new fields such as Internet TV, but don't expect to see the fruits of Intel's diversification efforts show up this early. For now, this is still a company stuck with its ties to the falling PC industry.
Analysts expect better EPS results from J&J and Coke, however: Projections for the two companies' earnings average year-over-year growth of 2.2% and 2.3%, respectively. Coca-Cola's steadily advanced overseas despite fighting against regulatory hurdles and legislation at home, promoting its iconic brand around the globe in an effort that should help this stalwart company's future. Although analysts project slightly lower revenue from the company, Coca-Cola looks to be on good footing for the long term.
Financials take center stage on Wednesday, as both Bank of America and American Express report earnings. Analysts expect earnings per share from these companies of $0.22 and $1.22, respectively; B of A's projected earnings represent significant year-over-year growth over last year's $0.03 mark. Financial firms have done well recently -- B of A has been one of the Dow's top risers over the past year -- but consumer spending has been shaken by the payroll-tax holiday expiration earlier this year, along with sequestration. On Wednesday, we'll be able to see just how much these events have affected consumer-oriented companies such as American Express. While the company's earnings are expected to grow around 5% over last year, tightening consumer wallets could put a dent in AmEx's results.
Thursday brings three more companies up to bat, with UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), IBM, and Verizon to the forefront. UnitedHealth provides a particularly interesting report to watch as the company shifts toward the full arrival of Obamacare next year. Analysts expect a drop in the company's earnings to $1.14 per share this quarter, down from $1.31 a year ago. Still, UnitedHealth has done a good job growing its subscription base and advancing internationally, two trends that should bolster its numbers. IBM and Verizon, on the other hand, are both expected to post year-over-year EPS gains for the quarter, to $3.05 and $0.66, respectively.
Finally, General Electric and McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) report earnings on Friday, with the companies expected to release EPS results of $0.35 and $1.27, respectively -- each slight gains over a year ago. McDonald's is still looking to recover after monthly restaurant sales fell for the first time in a decade last October. Since then, the company's faced tough competition from rivals as well as the push toward healthier eating in many advanced economies that has hurt its revenue outlook. While analysts are expecting McDonald's to bounce back by beating last year's quarterly figure, a miss wouldn't be shocking considering the firm's recent struggles.
Can McDonald's turn things around?
McDonald's turned in a dismal year in 2012, underperforming the broader market by 25%. Looking ahead, can the Golden Arches reclaim its throne atop the restaurant industry, or will this unsettling trend continue? Our top analyst weighs in on McDonald's future in a recent premium report on the company. Click here now to find out whether a buying opportunity has emerged for this global juggernaut.