How 3M Held the Dow's Gains in Check

Wall Street's best news of the day came straight from the labor market, which continues to show that fewer and fewer are filing for unemployment insurance. Though the recovery hasn't been anything to write home about just yet, the reinvigoration of the real estate sector and signs of improvement on the jobs front have kept the U.S. economy and the stock market alive. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) ended the day with a 24-point, or 0.2% gain, at 14,700. 

Alas, the 2.7% spike in Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ  ) shares today didn't stem from falling unemployment claims. The surge instead followed new details in Verizon's attempt to buy the remaining 45% of its Verizon Wireless stake from U.K.-based Vodafone. Apparently, Verizon's bid is getting closer to being final by the day; one feasible scenario has Verizon buying Vodafone's 45% stake for a $100 billion, 50-50 mix of cash and stock. 

Today again we see how the perception of a competitor's business can affect your own. Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO  ) lost 2.5% yesterday after a poor forecast by Juniper Networks stirred bears from hibernation. But when Juniper's slide started to reverse today, Cisco's stock corrected with it. as it tacked on 1.2%. 

An internal companywide motivational mantra may have started to aid IBM's (NYSE: IBM  ) stock price already. IBM added 1.2% today as Wall Street got word of CEO Virginia Rometty's message to employees after last week's earnings dud. That message: Think fast. Move faster. Though it's tough to move faster than the stock did last Friday, when it took more than an 8% haircut, IBM shareholders are hoping future moves will be in the profitable direction. 

The last highlight in the index came from global conglomerate 3M (NYSE: MMM  ) , which was able to show its power as the Dow's third-highest weighted component, when it slumped 2.8% Thursday. Revenue wasn't up to par in the first quarter, coming in just under the $7.8 billion estimate at $7.6 billion. To make matters worse, it lowered its earnings outlook for the 2013 fiscal year, reflecting a sluggish electronics market.

With more than 50,000 products, 3M plays a role in making everything from computers to power cables. A long history of invention and innovation has driven the company to its wide reach, but a focus on operational efficiency may be hurting the creative culture that once created Scotch tape and the Post-it Note. A new leader has taken over and vows to return innovation to the forefront. Does this mean the stock will become more than a dividend, returning to its former glory as a growth stock once again? Find out whether 3M has what it takes to pull it off in The Motley Fool's comprehensive new research report on the company. Simply click here now to claim your copy today.


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