Coke, Procter & Gamble, and J.C. Penney Shine on a Flat Day

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.

With the news feeds slow in terms of economic data releases, and the Federal Reserve's October meeting beginning tomorrow, the major indexes are rather calm today. As of 1 p.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is up just 0.1%, while the S&P 500 has gained 0.22% and the Nasdaq is a meager 0.03% higher. But just because the indexes aren't making big moves doesn't mean individual stocks aren't.

Shares of Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG  ) are up 1.8% today on little news. But as many believe the Fed is unlikely to begin tapering this week, Treasury bond yields have been declining lately. This may be sending the more conservative investors back to companies like Procter & Gamble because they offers safe but extremely reliable growth. Furthermore, while the current 3% dividend yield may not seem like a monster, P&G is the Dow component that has been increasing its dividend for the longest time.

Shares of Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) are up 1.3% today after Arca Continental, a Mexican bottling company and one of the world's largest Coke bottlers, reported that profit rose 15% during the third quarter. The increase came from higher prices and an increase to its U.S. snack business. The news is good for Coke, as the company has been struggling with declining soda volumes, because this would indicate that although units are shrinking, prices can still be increased, which will help offset the lower volume. However, investors shouldn't get overly excited about this news, as the bottling plant only represents a small portion of Coke's overall business. 

Outside the Dow, one big mover today is J. C. Penney (NYSE: JCP  ) as shares are up 9.1% after the company again reiterated that sales trends are improving and confirmed its forecast, which calls for a rise in same-store sales figures during the third quarter. This follows recent rumors that the company is talking to a bankruptcy lawyer and was denied a loan from a Canadian bank, both of which sent shares tumbling on the days the rumors hit investors' ears. Many analysts believe this holiday season is something of a last stand for J. C. Penney, and if the ailing department store doesn't hit it out of the park, the company will be in big trouble. With that said, investors thinking about opening a position should hold off until after the holidays to see how things play out.  

The retail space is in the midst of the biggest paradigm shift since mail order took off at the turn of last century. Only those most forward-looking and capable companies will survive, and they'll handsomely reward those investors who understand the landscape. You can read about the "3 Companies Ready to Rule Retail" in The Motley Fool's special report. Uncovering these top picks is free today; just click here to read more.


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