Evening Dow Report: IBM Adds to the Earnings Carnage Late

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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.

For the second session in a row, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) moved in the opposite direction of the broader stock market. Today, the Dow got the short end of the stick, with the average falling 44 points after all the companies that reported earnings this morning posted substantial losses. Tomorrow, that trend might continue, given the results that IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) released after the close tonight. Yet a big gain in Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) and an offsetting loss from Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS  ) show the disparate trends that Dow investors have to deal with right now.

IBM's results earlier this afternoon weren't what investors had wanted to see, with the stock falling almost 3% in after-hours trading following the company's afternoon conference call. The company predictably reported a 6% jump in net income, with earnings per share posting an even healthier rise of almost 12% thanks to the tech giant's ongoing efforts to buy back shares. But a 5.5% drop in revenue was even worse than investors had expected, as hardware-division sales fell by more than a quarter and even its services division saw a 3.6% decline in sales. Until IBM can reassure investors that it can grow in the increasingly competitive tech space, success in meeting the adjusted earnings-per-share goal of $20 by next year will represent a Pyrrhic victory.

Yet some of the moves based on earnings today didn't make all that much sense, with some companies beating estimates but still moving downward. That was also the case beyond the earnings realm, as Coca-Cola's 1.6% jump came without any apparent news justifying the move. Dividend investors are undoubtedly attracted to the soft-drink giant's shares, given their nearly 3% yield and consistent dividend growth. But it's hard for value investors to follow suit, with earnings multiples above 20 and growth prospects still in question. Shareholders will have to wait and see whether Coke can get its growth back before making a final decision about the stock.

For Goldman, meanwhile, today's 1.75% loss came as even the company itself seems to be nervous about prospects for the stock market. Last week's warning from Goldman analyst David Kostin pointed to high multiples on the S&P 500, noting that in order to advance from here, stocks would have to build on fundamental earnings growth rather than multiple expansion. Yet even with Goldman trading at just 11 times trailing earnings, investors seem scared that it's only a matter of time before Goldman and other financial stocks that have seen such huge gains in recent years will have to pull back.

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Dan Caplinger

Dan Caplinger has been a contract writer for the Motley Fool since 2006. As the Fool's Director of Investment Planning, Dan oversees much of the personal-finance and investment-planning content published daily on With a background as an estate-planning attorney and independent financial consultant, Dan's articles are based on more than 20 years of experience from all angles of the financial world.

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