3 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  ) is set for a positive start to trading this morning. According to stock index futures as of 7:35 a.m. EDT, the blue-chip index will gain 49 points at the opening bell.

Earnings season is giving a lift to markets, helping stocks stay near historic highs. About 200 large companies have reported quarterly results so far, and 77% of them have beaten analysts' profit expectations, according to Bloomberg.

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

For the first time in years, Ford's (NYSE: F  ) international business is in the black. Ford booked $0.45 a share in quarterly profit this morning on $36 billion in sales. Both results were ahead of Wall Street's estimates. There was a lot for investors to like in this quarter's report, including raised guidance for total profit and for full-year operating margin. But I think the fact that regions outside of the U.S. kicked in a profit for the first time in two years is significant, as it sets the stage for strong global growth over the years ahead. Ford's stock is up 3.4% in premarket trading. 

Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI  ) isn't having much trouble attracting new subscribers. The radio operator reported net subscriber additions of 513,000 this quarter, up from 446,000 in the same period last year. That boost helped the company log an 11% sales improvement to $962 million. Earnings came in at $0.01 a share, slightly lower than expected. Sirius is still splurging on its own shares: The company spent $459 million on stock buybacks last quarter and has firm plans to spend $500 million more in the months ahead. Sirius' shares are down 2.8% in premarket trading.

Finally, Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV  ) sees a long runway for growth ahead. The company this morning reported quarterly earnings of $0.34 a share, as expected, on record third-quarter revenue of $4.5 billion. Revenue per average seat mile improved by a strong 4.5%, and fuel costs fell significantly in the quarter. Southwest was affected by the government shutdown but said that holiday bookings for the next two months look strong. The company expects to finish integrating AirTran operations into its business next year and is on track to begin flying its first international routes in 2015. Southwest's stock is up 3% in premarket trading.

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Related Tickers

9/19/2014 4:36 PM
^DJI $17279.74 Up +13.75 +0.08%
DOW JONES INDUSTRI… CAPS Rating: No stars
F $16.65 Up +0.07 +0.42%
Ford CAPS Rating: ****
LUV $34.56 Down -0.67 -1.90%
Southwest Airlines CAPS Rating: ***
SIRI $3.57 Down -0.07 -1.79%
Sirius XM Radio CAPS Rating: **

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