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If the rest of earnings season goes as well as the first week did, stocks may be a steal right now. This week alone saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) soar nearly 330 points, or 2.2%, as second-quarter corporate profits mostly impressed, and the central bank vowed to continue its accommodative monetary policy. Today, the Dow ended cautiously higher after Thursday's surge; the index rose three points, or less than 0.1%, to close at 15,464.
Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) actually benefited from the success of its rivals today, rising 2% Friday after Wells Fargo and JPMorgan both posted earnings beats, implying that the second quarter was a good time to be a major bank. Next Wednesday is the moment of truth for the Charlotte-based Bank of America, but with two of its peers beating on revenue and profit expectations, all signs point to good news next week.
Another stock jumping on the strength of financials today was American Express (NYSE: AXP ) , which added 1.8%. With Wells and JPMorgan reporting gains in their credit card businesses in addition to improving credit quality, American Express shareholders would be hard-pressed to imagine a more bullish indicator before the company reports results next week. The markets certainly realize that the credit card giant is positioned well for the future: the stock closed Friday within spitting distance of its 52-week high.
Wireless provider Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ ) slipped 1.6%, as competition in the telecom sector heats up quickly. Notably, Sprint, which was just acquired by Japan's SoftBank for over $21 billion, not only has deeper pockets behind it now, but also announced an offer for unlimited data for an account's lifetime in an effort to woo customers. Verizon rival AT&T also acquired pre-paid carrier Leap Wireless for an 88% premium Friday afternoon.
Lastly, the standout decliner of the Dow today was Boeing (NYSE: BA ) , which cratered 4.7% after a fire broke out on one of its 787 Dreamliner planes parked at London's Heathrow. The incident, which luckily occurred while no passengers were on board and harmed no one, is still a nightmare for Boeing, which grounded its global fleet of Dreamliners for several months this year as it worked on safety issues. Today also saw another Dreamliner land early after experiencing technical issues in the air. Shareholders were understandably peeved.
With so much of the financial industry getting bad press these days, it may be a greedy-when-others-are-fearful moment. Not surprisingly, some of Warren Buffett's biggest investments are in the space. In the Motley Fool's free report, The Stocks Only the Smartest Investors Are Buying, you can learn about a small, under-the-radar bank that's too tiny for Buffett's billions. Too bad, because it has better operating metrics than his favorites. Just click here to keep reading.