3M, Boeing, and iRobot All Pop on a Down 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 Federal Reserve starting its last meeting of 2013 today, and the latest core Consumer Price Index figures showing that on a month-to-month basis inflation rose more than economists had expected, investors seemed slightly concerned that the central bank may start tapering its stimulus efforts. As of 1:10 p.m. EST the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is down nine points, or 0.06% while the S&P 500 has lost 0.26% and the Nasdaq is lower by 0.11%.

Today's decline comes after yesterday's rally, when it seemed there was no way the Fed was going to begin tapering. But since inflation seems to be creeping higher, all bets are off.

Now let's take a moment to look at a few of today's big winners and see what's motivating investors to push their prices higher.

Shares of Dow component 3M (NYSE: MMM  ) are higher by 2.4% after the company made a few big announcements this morning. First, management affirmed its long-term sales and earnings growth forecast for fiscal 2014. The company believes it will see earnings per share within a range of $7.30-$7.55, while analysts' consensus had EPS pinned at $7.41. Looking to 2017, the company believes it can continue to increase revenue by 4%-6% while delivering earnings-per-share growth of 9%-11%. Additionally, 3M announced that it was increasing its dividend by 35%. This is certainly music to shareholders' ears, as they likely own 3M because of its consistent growth and this just shows that they shouldn't expect anything other than just that.

Shares of Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) are also higher today by 1.3% after the company announced after the closing bell yesterday that it would also increase its dividend by 50% and add $10 billion to its share buyback program. The quarterly payout will now be $0.73 per share, up from $0.485. The $10 billion will be added to the $800 million the company has left from the buyback program initiated in 2007. While we would typically rather see companies spend more on dividends than buybacks, the double shot of shareholders return also works.  

Outside the Dow, shares of iRobot (NASDAQ: IRBT  ) are up more than 17%. The stock jumped higher Monday on news that Google would buy a robotics company. It got another boost today when Raymond James upgraded the stock to strong buy and increased the price target to $39. The analyst said the company's new vacuum robot, the Roomba 800, will boost sales in 2014, and that the expansion of the company's other products into new markets around the world should help gross profits. This company has some big shoes to grow into, but it is becoming a household name in the U.S.; if it can get that kind of market penetration in other countries, the sky could be the limit.  

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