It's been an interesting month for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) to say the least. Now that the government is fully operating again, we'll begin to see delayed economic reports coming from Washington as early as next week. Until then, we have earnings season to keep us busy with fresh numbers. That leads us to one Dow component trading much higher than the index itself remains flat, which is only modestly higher as of 2:45 p.m. EDT.
General Electric (NYSE:GE) is the biggest gainer in the Dow today, up 3.8% after posting third-quarter results. General Electric reported earnings of $0.40 per share, which is about 8% better than the same quarter last year. After adjusting for the restructuring charges taken during the quarter, EPS came in at $0.36. One of the biggest positives was that General Electric's focus to improve profitability is taking hold. Its industrial margins improved by 120 basis points to 15.4% over the last year.
In addition to its improving profitability, General Electric is also returning value to shareholders through share buybacks and dividend hikes. So far this year, General Electric has repurchased $8 billion of stock and paid out nearly $6 billion in dividends.
Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) is another big winner in the Dow today, up more than 2%. Caterpillar investors have more reason to keep an eye on General Electric these days as the latter begins its foray into oil and gas services and mining equipment. However, investors should also note that Caterpillar is the world's largest manufacturer of heavy equipment, with a strong competitive advantage through its dealer network, and should have no problem holding on to its market share.
Furthermore, for proof of Caterpillar's pricing power, look at its recently announced price increases of up to 2% on most machines for 2014. It also previously announced 2% to 6% engine-emission-related price increases -- both of which will help profitability as worldwide demand remains well below its historical peak.
Boeing (NYSE:BA) is taking a small breather today, down 0.3% after soaring to a new record-high stock price recently. Boeing announced today that it will adjust the production rate of its 747-8 program slightly because of lower market demand for large passenger airplanes.
"This production adjustment better aligns us with near-term demand while stabilizing our production flow, and better positions the program to offer the 747-8's compelling economics and performance when the market recovers," said Eric Lindblad, vice president and general manager of Boeing Commercial Airplanes' 747 Program, in a press release. "Although we are making a small adjustment to our production rate, it doesn't change our confidence in the 747-8 or our commitment to the program."
Fool contributor Daniel Miller has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Electric Company. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.