How Iron Man Held Back the Dow's Gains Today

After yesterday's market plunge, investors welcomed today's gain for the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) , especially in light of some of the more negative economic news that came out early this morning. With continued worries about the strength and staying-power of the economic recovery, investors remain on edge about conflicting signals from rising bond yields. By the close, the Dow had given up most of its gains from earlier in the session, finishing up 22 points. The broader market held onto more of its gains, with the S&P 500 rising more than a third of a percent.

Some Dow stocks weighed especially hard on the average. Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) was the biggest decliner in the Dow, falling almost 2.5% as the company's CFO made comments that suggested the company's results for the current quarter might fall short of what optimistic investors expect. Although Iron Man 3 has brought in a whopping $1.2 billion in box office revenue, that nevertheless isn't as much as the Avengers film collected during the year-ago quarter. Moreover, adding in costs for this summer's The Lone Ranger release, Disney's movie division will see a reduction in operating income of about $150 million. Add in another $75 million in lost revenue from ESPN and some calendar effects, and investors got the message that things might not be quite as rosy at Disney as analysts believed.

Consumer stocks Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) and McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) also held the Dow back with losses of 1% to 1.5%. Without any company-specific news, the reason why these stocks have performed relatively badly this week might well have to do with their status as income-producing substitutes for bonds. As bond yields have risen, investors should demand higher dividend yields from these stocks, and that necessitates having their share prices fall. Given their fairly hefty valuations, the pullbacks in both of these companies are good news for those who've waited for a better opportunity to buy.

Finally, outside the Dow, Big Lots (NYSE: BIG  ) plunged 9% after a disappointing quarterly report. The retailer said that same-store sales fell 2.5% during the quarter, and although the company managed to match expectations on earnings per share, it nevertheless marked a decline from last year's levels as Big Lots blamed bad weather for its poor results. Even worse, the company guided earnings down for the current quarter. With a new CEO on board, Big Lots will have to get things turned around quickly to inspire confidence from shareholders.

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