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.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) got off to a strong start this morning, with poor jobs data having the counterintuitive effect of leading investors to expect possible further accommodation from the Federal Reserve. But earnings also played a big role today, as United Technologies (NYSE: UTX ) , DuPont (NYSE: DD ) , and Travelers (NYSE: TRV ) all delivered their quarterly reports this morning. As of 10:55 a.m. EDT, the Dow was up 48 points, having given up early triple-digit gains.
United Technologies trades near the unchanged mark, having sent a somewhat mixed message in its quarterly report. Earnings from continuing operations rose substantially, but overall net income only gained about 1%. Looking forward, United Tech boosted the lower end of its expected earnings range for the full year, but sluggish revenue led it to cut its full-year sales projections. That dynamic is one we've seen from many businesses lately, with profit margins helping companies like United Technologies make the most of revenue even without substantial sales growth.
DuPont has gained 0.5% after topping earnings expectations in its third quarter. Revenue rose 4.7%, with much faster volume growth making up for lower prices and unfavorable currency effects. All of DuPont's segments saw better operating earnings compared to the year-ago quarter except for performance chemicals -- which is consistent with DuPont's efforts to try to sell off the lagging unit and emphasize higher-growth areas. In particular, agricultural sales jumped 15%, and the acquisition of South Africa's Pannar Seed helped it avoid the full brunt of what is typically a seasonally weak period for the segment.
Travelers has also climbed, with shares up 0.7% after the company reported record quarterly operating income per share. Although weaker net investment income weighed on results somewhat, much more favorable loss experience and an extensive share-buyback program helped to pull EPS higher. Eventually, rising competition will likely limit Travelers' ability to raise premiums to offset the impact of low interest rates. For now, though, investors are reaping the benefits of the pain Travelers experienced over the past several years.
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