Why IBM and United Technologies Will Move the Dow Tomorrow

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.

Earnings season is in full swing, and by the end of this week more than a dozen of the components of the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) will have given their reports for the most recent quarter. On tap over the next 24 hours are IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) and United Technologies (NYSE: UTX  ) , which will offer their own perspective on business conditions. What they say could lead to big moves in the Dow tomorrow.

IBM will release its earnings right after the close of trading this afternoon, with a webcast to discuss the results scheduled for 4:30 p.m. EST. United Technologies reports at some point before the bell tomorrow; the company's press release for its most recent results back in October was issued at about 7 a.m. EST. United Tech has a conference call scheduled for 9 a.m. EST.

Sources: IBM; Bin Im Garten.

With IBM earnings, the primary question is whether the technology giant can find ways to reverse its recent declines in revenue. So far, falling sales haven't held IBM earnings growth back. But many investors are concerned that trends toward cloud computing will inevitably hurt its server division, forcing IBM to retrench. IBM is making major investments in new data centers, as well as a division based on its Watson initiative to help it move forward in the business analytics and big data areas. Still, Big Blue will have to work hard to fend off increasing competition from players seeking to stake their climb in the highly lucrative segments.

United Technologies' report, on the other hand, should feature a big climb in earnings and modest revenue growth for the provider of technology and services to the aerospace and building services sectors. Even though poor economic conditions in Europe and declines in military spending have weighed on United Technologies' results, explosive growth in the commercial aerospace industry has helped to make up for the sluggishness in much of the company's growth. With Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) not yet having reported, United Technologies could give essential information about what investors should expect from the airplane manufacturer's earnings next week. Moreover, strong performance from United Technologies in the non-aerospace Otis and Carrier lines will provide a key barometer of general business activity in the economy. Looking at the breakdown of growth in United Technologies' results could lead to valuable conclusions for other Dow components as well.

At this point, enough Dow companies have reported to give us a reasonably good sense of the tone of this earnings season. But given the high share prices that both these stocks enjoy, IBM and United Technologies could have an outsized influence on the Dow after they report.

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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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