Netflix Crushes on Earnings as Dow Craters 175 Points

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.

During the last decade, a loquacious subset of American investors has grown increasingly disturbed by China's economic influence over U.S. business. As the U.S. was hit by the financial crisis, China continued to grow by leaps and bounds. Now, however, the murmur has grown to a deafening roar, and today's market did nothing to quiet the crowd. A gauge of China's manufacturing sector caught Wall Street completely off guard by showing a contraction in January. Largely ignoring earnings results from U.S. companies, markets turned their attention to Asia, and sold off steeply as a result. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) plunged 175 points, or 1.1%, to end at 16,197. 

Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) , which fell 0.7%, was somewhat insulated from today's pullback, but not entirely. Even though Walt Disney was one of the Dow's biggest gainers yesterday after an analyst cheered the company's ownership stake in A&E, that momentum lost its fight with the bears today. If you're looking to try your hand at investing in the entertainment sector, you'd be hard-pressed to find another company with the long-term potential of Disney. Sure, it's a blue chip, so it won't be doubling anytime soon; but it pays a 1.2% dividend and boasts a deep bench of "cash-cow" caliber assets that any of its competitors would kill to have.

Arcos Dorados (NYSE: ARCO  ) , despite two consecutive days of 6% sell-offs, also boasts an invaluable asset: it is the largest franchisee of McDonald's restaurants in the entire world. Arcos Dorados has a firm grip on the Latin American market, where it operates or franchises the McDonald's name in 20 countries and territories. The two-day slump, which sent the stock to 52-week lows, was triggered by a downgrade from JP Morgan, which reduced its price target from $14 to $11 per share. But before you go writing this company off, remember that analysts don't always have your best interests at heart, and then recall that JP Morgan became suddenly bullish on Arcos Dorados less than three months ago. 

I doubt a single analyst downgraded Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX  ) stock today, as shares soared 16.5% on a blowout quarter and rosy talk about the company's future. The streaming entertainment giant hit all-time highs Thursday on the heels of its fourth quarter, which saw Netflix boost subscribers by 10%, or 4 million, in just three months. And Netflix certainly keeps its ear to the ground for game-changing technologies that could impact and grow its business. Just as it was a trailblazer in the streaming video segment, Netflix's VP of IT Operations, Mike Kail, spoke enthusiastically about an over-the-head, wearable LED device that could change the way people watch TV and movies in the coming years.

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