The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was down 13 points at 3 p.m. EST on an up-and-down day left the major indices mixed in late-afternoon trading. Investors are taking note of a decline in the Conference Board's latest reading on consumer confidence, which for February fell to 78.1 from a revised 79.4 in January. Although the overall index declined, two of its internal factors are split.
"This [split] suggests that consumers believe the economy has improved, but they do not foresee it gaining considerable momentum in the months ahead," said Lynn Franco, Conference Board director of economic indicators, according to Morningstar.
Amid the decline in consumer confidence and lack of direction from the market, here are companies making headlines today.
While Boeing (NYSE:BA) led the Dow higher throughout 2013, the stock is dragging the index down so far this year and has dropped another 2% today. The company is having a difficult time finding buyers for 11 of its earliest 787 Dreamliners. The planes, now sitting at Boeing's Everett, Wash., plant are valued at roughly $1.1 billion, according to Bloomberg.
The reason that buyers are hard to find is that the planes are heavier and can't fly as far as newer production versions of the Dreamliner. The company still hopes it can find bargain-hunting airlines that will scoop up the early production planes and help Boeing offset some of their production costs, as well as lower its inventory level.
One reason investors are eying the situation is because in 2009 the company wrote off $2.7 billion worth of research and development expenses due to some of the early planes requiring too much rework. Finding a suitable buyer for some of these remaining planes would remove concerns that the company will have to resort to another large write-off that could further hurt profitability.
Outside of the Dow, Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) soared 14% to another record high after Morgan Stanley more than doubled its projected price for the stock at $320. Analyst Adam Jonas had this to say in a note to investors:
If it can be a leader in commercializing battery packs, investors may never look at Tesla the same way again If Tesla can become the world's low-cost producer in energy storage, we see significant optionality for Tesla to disrupt adjacent industries.
Morgan Stanley's upgrade comes before the highly anticipated announcement this week regarding the automaker's plans for a battery "gigafactory." As Tesla continues to improve profitability on its successful electric vehicle, the Model S, it is also preparing to launch the Model X crossover to help lay the groundwork for its more affordable Gen III vehicle. The success of the Gen III will hinge largely on availability of lower-cost batteries, which Tesla's battery factory should enable the company to accomplish. Investors would be wise to stay tuned for the company's announcement this week for additional details.
Tesla is also eyeing substantial growth in China, but which automakers are truly poised for success there?
U.S. automakers boomed after WWII, but the coming boom in the Chinese auto market will put that surge to shame! As Chinese consumers grow richer, savvy investors can take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with the help from this brand-new Motley Fool report that identifies two automakers to buy for a surging Chinese market. It's completely free -- just click here to gain access.
Daniel Miller has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Tesla Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.