The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) is trading more than 114 higher, up 0.71%, by midafternoon after economic data and earnings announcements hit the news feeds. Initial unemployment claims were down 3,000 last week to 336,000 and the four-week moving average rose to 338,500. In other news, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank business activity index dropped to -6.3 in February from January's 9.4. The larger than expected drop was partially blamed on severe weather. With those trends in mind, here are some industrial companies making big headlines today.
Inside the Dow, Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) is up more than 1% even though global sales of its machinery by dealers in the three months ended Jan. 31 declined 8% from last year. Surprisingly, the 8% decline is actually favorable when compared to the prior two quarters' results of 9% and 12% sales declines. The major drag was a 37% reduction in mining equipment sales over the three months, as the segment continues to suffer from a huge cut in spending by mining companies. However, sales of construction equipment and power systems grew 9% and 2%, respectively.
Outside the Dow, Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA ) is racing nearly 10% higher after Wall Street digested its fourth-quarter results and this year's guidance. While the young electric vehicle maker remains unprofitable in terms of generally accepted accounting principles standards, it continues to deliver on its promise to aim for significant global growth.
Last quarter, Tesla delivered an all-time high o nearly 6,900 Model S vehicles; the company has also issued guidance for 35,000 deliveries in 2014. On top of the record number of deliveries, tfhe company met its goal of 25% gross margin excluding zero emission vehicle credit sales. That's just the first step as the company plans on reaching a gross margin of 28% by the end of this year.
Another positive takeaway from the company's fourth-quarter letter to shareholders was that Tesla estimates 80% of its customers use the Model S as their primary vehicle. That gives investors more confidence that "range anxiety" isn't a real worry and that the vast majority of consumers use the vehicle as their regular mode of transportation sans long cross country trips. As Tesla continues to build its supercharging station infrastructure, even long-distance trips will become less of a worry.
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