Why Coke's Earnings Have the Dow at Triple-Digit Gains

Stocks took a pounding yesterday, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is back in the green today, recording triple-digit gains so far. As of 2:25 p.m. EDT, the Dow has advanced 110 points, or 0.75%, with nearly every stock on the index gaining. A few blue-chip stocks are leading the way on the back of earnings; a full third of the index reports quarterly data this week. Let's catch up on what you need to know.

Earnings pace the Dow's rise
Coca-Cola
's (NYSE: KO  ) leading the way today, with shares up a whopping 5.4% after the company released earnings data earlier. The firm's earnings per share fell to $0.46, excluding items, and net income declined 15% year over year. However, Coke still managed to top analyst expectations.The company has been working hard in Latin America recently, and its efforts have paid off with a 4% beverage volume increase in the region. However, volume in debt-plagued Europe couldn't keep up, remaining flat -- although that was an improvement over last quarter's 5% decline. For now, expect Europe to remain a troubling location for Coke's sales.

Coke's optimistic report is a good sign for the earnings season to come. The company's sales haven't been slammed by the fallout of the payroll tax hike and sequestration. While revenue did fall, the company's besting of analyst's modest predictions offers hope of stronger earnings to come from consumer-oriented stocks.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ  ) also reported earnings today, and the shares gained 1.9% after the medical giant also topped expectations. While overall net profit fell about 10% year over year for the quarter, J&J's earnings were hit hard by charges related to litigation and acquisition. Without one-time items, the company's earnings per share increased to $1.44, beating projections of $1.40. The company's pharmaceutical business led the way, with sales of leading drugs pushing the division's revenue higher by more than 10%.

These two companies aren't the only Dow members reporting today. Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) will release its quarterly data after the closing bell, and optimistic investors have pushed the stock up 1.9% so far. Analysts are expecting a downbeat quarter from the chip maker, predicting that earnings per share will fall 23% year over year and that revenue will decline as well. The company's failure to translate its PC dominance into the mobile market has hurt Intel as rivals rush to produce chips for smartphones, tablets, and other devices. With PC sales posting their worst fall in recorded history last week, Intel has to find a way to diversify, lest it fall victim to the PC market's decline.

HP (NYSE: HPQ  ) is another tech stock that's been crushed by the PC market, but the stock has done surprisingly well this year. It's up another 1.6% today after HP agreed to let start-up company Leap Motion bundle its motion-tracking technology into select HP devices. It's an innovative move by HP, evolving computer technology to integrate user gestures and movement into the PC experience, but unless Leap Motion's work catches on strongly with consumers, it may only slow HP's slumping PC sales. Unless HP speeds up and succeeds in its efforts to diversify away from the industry, this company's turnaround is at risk.

Is HP on the right track?
The massive wave of mobile computing has done much to unseat the major players in the PC market, including venerable technology names like Hewlett-Packard. However, HP is rapidly shifting its strategy under the leadership of CEO Meg Whitman. But does this make HP one of the least-appreciated turnaround stories on the market, or is this a minor detour on its road to irrelevance? The Motley Fool's technology analyst details exactly what investors need to know about HP in our new premium research report. Just click here now to get your copy today.


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