Dow Slips As IBM Falls After Hours; BlackBerry Jumps

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.

After a three-day break from earnings season, stocks finished mixed once again today, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) sliding 0.3% while the Nasdaq and S&P 500 both finished up. Investors seem to be searching for a theme to guide them through the new year, coming off a 2013 performance that saw the broad market jump nearly 30%, as the stock market has been mostly flat through three weeks.

There were no economic reports released today, but the stampede of major earnings releases continued as Dow stocks Travelers, Verizon, and Johnson & Johnson all dropped more than 1% after announcing results this morning. IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) shares were also off 2.6% after Big Blue once again disappointed the market in its quarterly report, missing sales estimates for the fourth straight quarter on sliding demand for servers and storage in China and other emerging markets. A slowdown in IT spending by government-owned corporations in China seemed to ding the company the most in the quarter, as overall revenue dropped 5% to $27.7 billion, below expectations of $28.25 billion. Still, IBM's CFO promised that sales growth will get back to the mid-single digits by 2015. Helped by a lower tax rate, IBM's adjusted earnings rose to $6.13 a share, above estimates at $5.99.

Staying in the tech world, BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY  ) shares finished up 9% after the ailing smartphone maker got a vote of confidence from the Pentagon last week. In a press release, the Defense Department said the BlackBerry was still the choice of the vast majority of its staffers, as about 80,000 employees were using the smartphone, most prized for its security features. The news actually came out on Thursday, and the stock has risen 16% in just the past two trading sessions. In news more reflective of BlackBerry's current situation, the Ontario-based company said it will divest a majority of its Canadian real estate holdings, a move that will unload about 3 million square feet of commercial real estate from the company's books. Shares gained another 1.6% after markets closed amid speculation that the company will move its headquarters, though it said in the release that it wouldn't. Despite the after-hours gain, the decision seems to be reflective of a struggling company's desperation to sustain cash flow, as BlackBerry has seen massive operating losses recently. For long-term investors, the sale is not a positive sign.

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