The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) is up 0.16% in late trading on a mixed day on Wall Street that has more diverse indexes moving lower. A big move higher by Visa, an expensive stock that weighs heavily on the price-weighted index, accounts for most of upward pressure.
Economic data out today shows December's industrial production up 0.3% from the previous month and rising 3.7% for the full year. The U.S. Department of Commerce said new housing starts dropped 9.8% in December to an annual rate of 999,000, and for the full year hit 923,400, the best since 2007. Finally, the University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters consumer confidence reading dropped from 82.5 in December to 80.4 this month. In short, economic data didn't give investors enough to be big buyers or sellers today.
Intel drags the Dow down again
The big move lower today comes from Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), the chip maker that can't ever seem to please Wall Street. The stock is down 3.5% after a "disappointing" earnings report, something that's hard to even define for Intel quarter to quarter.
Fourth-quarter revenue rose 3% to $13.8 billion, gross margin increased 400 basis points to 62%, and net income was up 6% to $2.6 billion, or $0.51 per share. If you told investors three months ago that quarterly results would have been that strong they would have been ecstatic, but the bar is continually moving for Intel.
The disappointment today comes from the data center group, which lowered its 2014 growth guidance from a range of 13%-15% down to 10%-12%. This is the high-flying business for Intel right now and is the company's exposure to servers that feed the cloud and business productivity.
Intel's businesses ebb and flow; unexpected strength in PCs balanced the weaker than expected results in data centers to produce pretty solid growth overall. But investors often pick on a single data point when they sell off stocks, and that's the case today.
The company has also received a lot of criticism for not having much exposure to the mobile market, but chips targeting mobile won't really hit production lines until the second half of this year. That's when investors should expect growth, so a long-term lens is needed to view Intel correctly.
Keep in mind that Intel is an extended value play, not a high growth stock. It pays a 3.5% dividend yield, trades at just 14 times earnings, and still has scale and reach in chips that no one can match.
Intel has holes that analysts and investors can pick at each quarter, but when you see growing revenue and profit for a company trading at this value it should be a positive. Long term, this is still a stock I'm very comfortable owning.
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