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It was a rough week on Wall Street, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) dropped 3.5% on declines every day of trading. Earnings reports have been solid but a report indicating that China's manufacturing sector might be slowing has spooked investors.
In reality, the market was probably just looking for a reason to correct lower after a strong run over the past year. The week's performance has left few bright spots, but there were some strong signs from a few of the Dow's better known components.
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) reported better-than-expected earnings, which led to its 1.2% rise this week. Xbox sales jumped from 5.9 million units a year ago to 7.4 million units after the Xbox One launch and Surface tablet sales doubled to $893 million. Net income was only up 3% to $6.56 billion, but devices sales helped push revenue 14% higher to $24.5 billion. Microsoft has gotten a lot of bad publicity because of falling PC sales and bad reviews of the Surface, but this is still a company that makes a ton of money and grows consistently quarter after quarter.
Merck (NYSE: MRK ) was up a whopping three cents for the week and was one of only three companies in the green yesterday. On Friday, the FDA said the company's experimental drug for ragweed allergies doesn't have any major side effects, and investors are hoping the product will be approved soon. The Allergenic Products Advisory Committee will meet on Tuesday to decide if more tests are needed, so keep an eye out for an announcement next week.
The third best stock on the Dow this week was Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG ) , which fell 0.5%, showing what a bad week it was for the market overall. The stock was up yesterday after an earnings report that was more running in place at best. Sales rose slightly, and net income fell 16%, but results beat expectations and a 3% rise in organic sales show fundamental improvement. The consumer business is tough right now, and it appears that CEO A.G. Lafley's focus on a smaller number of core products is paying off. Don't expect a lot of growth out of P&G, but this is still a steady income stock for investors.
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