Stock markets are down to end the week, and most are blaming the realization that the Fed's "No Taper" decision really means the economy is still awful right now. The truth is that the day-to-day movements of stocks can be hard to explain, given everything from dysfunction in Washington to component changes in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) affecting trading today. When you add it all up, the Dow is down 0.9% with half an hour left in trading, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) is down 0.66%.
One of the notable moves today is Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) , falling 2.3% after a meeting with analysts yesterday afternoon. Microsoft was supposed to lay out how its new reporting structure will help it become a focused "devices and services" company, but analysts came away without much new data. The company is clearly focused on moving products like Microsoft Office to the cloud, but there's not a lot of guidance on how that will change financials or growth going forward.
There are a lot of questions surrounding Microsoft's transition from a PC operating-system company to a mobile-device and services company, so investors will often react harshly when there's any hind of uncertainty in the business. But keep in mind that this is still one of the biggest players in tech, and with businesses like server software and office productivity tools, it's about much more than PCs. This week's 20% dividend jump and $40 billion stock buyback plan should also show some of the value in shares, but only if you can see past the short-term noise.
Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) is also lagging the Dow in the midst of a 1.6% decline today. Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL ) iPhone 5s and 5c went on sale today, and initial sales reports are mixed, especially here in the U.S. The new gold iPhone 5s appears to be a hit both here and in Asia, but the iPhone 5c is still unavailable in most locations, which may limit Verizon's upside from the new device. Most early iPhone 5s buyers are already iPhone users, so Verizon would already have them under contract. The real gains should come from picking up new customers, who have recently been attracted to lower-cost options.
Again, we need to keep in mind that Verizon is a dominant player in U.S. wireless, and a single product launch won't define the company's success. In the long term, I think the simple fact that Verizon carries all of the hottest products on the market is enough to keep Verizon ahead of competitors, whether Apple devices lead the way or not.
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