Earnings season is in full swing, and several Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) members have already reported quarterly results or will do so later today. The mixed outlooks for these stocks have kept the Dow roughly flat for most of the day, even after investors received encouraging testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on the future of quantitative easing. Bank of America' (NYSE: BAC ) is leading the day with big gains. Let's catch up on all the action around the Dow today.
B of A leads the way
Bank of America's stock has made 3.1% in earnings-fueled gains today. The company reported a modest 3.5% increase in revenue that trailed the rises achieved by several competitors that had previously reported. However, B of A's net income surged 63% for the quarter. The company's cost-cutting moves launched in 2011 have come to fruition after the firm cut down on long-term debt and reduced litigation expenses.
B of A's small-business side couldn't keep up with the optimism, however: Revenue at the firm's consumer real-estate services division fell 16% for the quarter. Fortunately, the company's Merrill Lynch Wealth Management segment far outstripped these losses, posting a 10.5% revenue increase that led the company's Wall Street businesses higher.
American Express (NYSE: AXP ) is another Dow financial staple making big moves today -- but the company won't report earnings until after the bell, and it's been all downhill for AmEx investors so far: The stock has fallen 1.9% to rank at the bottom of the Dow after European regulators mulled over an idea to limit credit card and debit card fees to 0.2% and 0.3% per transaction, respectively. Analysts at Morgan Stanley estimated that the impact could hit American Express' earnings to the tune of 3.7% due to the company's exposure in Europe.
American Express still has time to adjust if the proposal should go through, and rising U.S. consumer confidence has bolstered the company's long-term outlook. However, the European Union's proposal today will likely outweigh earnings optimism after the bell.
Outside the financial sector, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ ) is pulling back following yesterday's earnings release, down 0.3%. Despite the stock's drop, J&J posted a generally positive quarter that saw adjusted earnings per share beat out Wall Street estimates by $0.09. The company's sale of its stake in drug producer Elan greatly boosted its quarter, but J&J's pharmaceutical side posted a welcome 12% gain in sales.
Earnings season may be underway, but keep your eyes on the big picture as quarterly reports impress and disappoint Wall Street. After all, the best investing approach is to choose great companies and stick with them for the long term. The Motley Fool's free report "3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich" names stocks that could help you build long-term wealth and retire well, along with some winning wealth-building strategies that every investor should be aware of. Click here now to keep reading.