5 Things to Know Ahead of the Opening Bell

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) will begin the day in the red, falling by 73 points at the opening bell, according to stock index futures as of 7:45 a.m. EDT. World markets traded mostly lower overnight, refusing to celebrate the conclusion of the budget impasse in the United States. The short-term nature of the deal could be to blame: Congress only agreed to fund the federal government through Jan. 15 and to raise the debt ceiling until Feb. 7, setting up more potential fights in just a few months.

With that bigger picture in mind, here are four stock stories to watch for in today's market.

Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) saw stronger-than-expected revenue and profit in its third quarter. Sales grew by 4.4% to $30.3 billion, and adjusted earnings per share spiked 20% higher to $0.77 a share. Continued smartphone penetration boosted its wireless business, which helped push average monthly revenue up 7% to $155.74 per account. Verizon stock is up 2.5% in premarket trading.

UnitedHealth  (NYSE: UNH  ) met profit expectations this morning, booking $1.53 in per-share earnings. Revenue was a bit lower than expected, though, at $30.6 billion. Profitability fell as the company's health care services logged lower earnings than last year despite a sales bump. Still, UnitedHealth raised its full-year profit guidance slightly, now expecting earnings of between $5.40 and $5.50. UnitedHealth's stock is down 2.9% in premarket trading.

IBM's (NYSE: IBM  ) stock looks set to fall after it reported soft quarterly sales last night. Revenue dropped by 4% to $23.7 billion on surprising weakness in its hardware and growth-markets businesses. However, where traders see a miss, long-term investors might see an opportunity. IBM boosted its profitability in the quarter and logged gains in critical growth areas like cloud services and business analytics. The tech giant also maintained its earnings outlook for this year. The stock is down 7.6% in premarket trading.

Finally, Philip Morris International (NYSE: PM  ) reported a 9% jump in earnings this morning. Quarterly revenue came in flat at $7.9 billion as cigarette volumes continued to dip, falling by 5.7%. The company also scaled back its full-year earnings outlook. Philip Morris' stock is down a modest 0.4% in premarket trading.

Know Your Dividends
Dividend stocks like Verizon and Philip Morris can make you rich. It's as simple as that. While they don't garner the notoriety of highflying growth stocks, they're also less likely to crash and burn. And over the long term, the compounding effect of the quarterly payouts, as well as their growth, adds up faster than most investors imagine. With this in mind, our analysts sat down to identify the absolute best of the best when it comes to rock-solid dividend stocks, drawing up a list of nine in this free report. To discover the identities of these companies before the rest of the market catches on, you can download this valuable free report by simply clicking here now.


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