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Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
Investors applauded apparent progress from Washington today, bidding the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) up by nearly 200 points. As of 4 p.m. EDT, the Senate had a deal in place that it intended to vote on later this afternoon or early this evening, with the House following suit later tonight.
But for long-term investors, the quarterly earnings reports that we'll see tomorrow have a stronger chance of making a meaningful difference for the Dow's future prospects. Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ ) will issue its report at 7:30 a.m. EDT in advance of its conference call an hour later, and UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH ) will have a conference call at 8:45 a.m. EDT to discuss its results. Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS ) will also report before the bell.
For Verizon, the overarching consideration that investors will focus on is its complete takeover of its Verizon Wireless unit. The huge $130 billion buyout of Vodafone's stake in the venture represents a huge financial commitment, but it could also lead to substantial earnings growth, as Verizon will reap undiluted benefits from its net income and cash flow. Watch for the company to give numbers on smartphone sales, as well as particulars on how the Vodafone transaction will affect its financial numbers going forward.
UnitedHealth Group might seem to have a similar focus on news, given that Obamacare's exchanges just opened. But, UnitedHealth isn't just hoping for a boost in business to come from the Affordable Care Act. In addition, other initiatives, such as its Optum health-services unit, and its international operations, have potential beyond Obamacare. Investors should hope to see growth in those key areas in order to make UnitedHealth more diversified as a global health-insurance giant.
Finally, Goldman Sachs needs to prove that it can make money even in a tough environment for investment banking. Rising interest rates have hurt fixed-income trading results at other investment banks, and Goldman Sachs does a lot of business in that niche market. Shareholders need to see signs that the bank can deal with tighter regulation, and still produce the earnings growth that share-price increases have taken somewhat for granted.
Looking beyond Goldman
Bank stocks have had some tough earnings announcements over the past week, but they still look like reasonably good bargains. Still, do you know which bank is the best one to include in your portfolio? Get the expert scoop in The Motley Fool's new report, "Finding the Next Bank Stock Home Run," and you'll find out how and where to find these deals. It's completely free -- click here to get started.