Over the past few days, it's been the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) that have lagged behind the broader markets, failing to set new records even while the S&P 500 posted four winning days in a row. Today, though, it was the Dow's turn to shine, rising 22 points to a new record close even as the S&P and other broad-market indexes ended the day with losses. For the most part, earnings news ruled the day, especially with key reports coming both before the market opened and after the bell this afternoon.
Travelers (NYSE: TRV ) was today's big earnings victim in the Dow, falling almost 4% despite the insurance company having posted an 85% jump in profits. The company saw its book value drop about 2% as a result of the substantial declines in the bond market during the second quarter, which weighed on the company's extensive $63 billion portfolio of bond investments. Travelers' net unrealized gains fell by $1.77 billion, and although the company noted that higher rates will help it reinvest maturing bond proceeds at better returns, the hit more than offset earnings that beat expectations. Challenges in the auto insurance market also prompted the company to announce rate cuts that could dampen margins in the future.
Other losses among Dow stocks were less extreme. McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) , for example, fell 0.8% in a continuation of its nearly 3% drop yesterday following its disappointing earnings report. Burger rival Wendy's (NASDAQ: WEN ) managed to post upbeat earnings today, with its stock jumping more than 8% as it seeks to sell more of its company-owned stores to franchisees and guided future earnings to the upper end of its previous range. Wendy's isn't a huge threat to McDonald's given its limited size and geographical scope, but the trend is still a troubling one for the fast-food giant.
Finally, outside the Dow, Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD ) fell 6%, continuing its slide from negative earnings last week. Investors aren't sure that the company's strategy of concentrating on gaming-console sales will be a long-term winner for AMD, especially given its history of falling short against competition in the PC and mobile spaces. Until AMD proves otherwise, its stock could continue to see pressure from investors losing patience in the tech company's turnaround story.
Whether you like blue chips or up-and-coming start-ups, 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.