McDonald's Cools Off an Otherwise Solid Day for the Dow

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) closed out essentially where it started today as McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) earnings this morning cooled off what was an otherwise bullish day for Wall Street. While the Dow closed up just 2 points, or 0.01%, the S&P 500 gained 0.2%, ending at a record high for the third session in a row as a solid start to earnings season has lifted the market. About 64% of the S&P 500 companies that have reported so far have beaten earnings estimates. Only one economic report was released today, which showed June existing home sales coming at 5.08 million, slightly below May's mark of 5.14 million and below expectations at 5.28 million. Investors continue to be concerned that the housing recovery could cool off as mortgage rates have come up.

Mickey D's shares, meanwhile, ended down 2.7% after it reported per-share earnings of $1.38, missing estimates of $1.40. The fast-food empire, which has struggled of late, continued to report slow sales outside the Americas, citing competition and the poor global economy. Overall same-store sales rose 1%, but were down both in Europe and Asia. Ever adapting, McDonald's is continuing to modernize stores with Wi-Fi and TVs to make them more inviting and has added new healthy menu items like Chicken McWraps. The restaurant chain also said it expects July sales to be flat and sees slow growth for the rest of the year.

On the other end of the spectrum, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) was the Dow's biggest winner, gaining 1.9% as it bounced back after its earnings sent shares down 11% last Friday. Today's gain seemed to be little more than investors taking advantage of last session's sell-off as the PC decline appears to be affecting the software maker more than expected. If the company cannot find a significant foothold in mobile or other growing fields, we may see more plunges like last week's in the future.

Outside the Dow, Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX  ) dropped 4% after hours as it disappointed investors with its subscriber outlook for the current quarter. Still, earnings for the second quarter topped expectations as Netflix grew domestic streaming subscribers by 630,000, bringing that membership count to nearly 30 million. It was enough to bring per-share profits to $0.49, ahead of estimates of $0.40, but Wall Street's expectations have grown considerably as shares are up 400% from their bottom nearly a year ago. Investors should be mindful that it will take years before Netflix can deliver profits that would normally justify such a price.

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