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Dow Fights Back Into the Green on Good Coke, J&J Numbers

A big day for blue-chip earnings may be helping the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  )  move out of red territory and up 32 points as of 2:30 p.m. EDT. Renewed fears over possible escalation in the ongoing Ukraine-Russia standoff had sent jitters across the investment landscape for much of the day, as Dow components Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ  )  rose following their respective first-quarter earnings reports. Let's catch up on what you need to know.

Coca-Cola's fizzy results

Source: Coca-Cola Image Gallery

Coca-Cola's stock rocketed higher by 3.9%, leading all Dow stocks, after its big earnings day. The company's revenue disappointed investors by slumping 4%, but that was still enough to top analyst expectations. Meanwhile, Coke's adjusted earnings of $0.44 per share landed squarely on projections. More importantly, worldwide case volume jumped by 2% -- also topping analyst projections.

Geographic differences made a big impact in the quarter. While volume fell 4% in Europe, Coca-Cola saw volume climb by 12% in China and 9% in Russia, the latter result helped by the company's presence around the Olympic Games in Sochi. With attitudes toward soda falling in advanced economies such as Europe and the U.S., the company will need to keep fueling growth in China, Russia, and other developing nations. Soda volume fell by 1% for the quarter in North  America, and while Coca-Cola has done a good job diversifying its product portfolio into drinks such as bottled water and other nonsoda items, geographic diversity will be its most important weapon in keeping volume growing.

Johnson & Johnson is also riding earnings optimism today despite the Dow's drop, as the diversified health-care giant's stock jumped 1.8%. An 8% earnings climb kicked off J&J's big day, with revenue gaining 3.5% in a first quarter marked by a huge jump from the company's pharmaceutical business. That was enough to convince Johnson & Johnson to increase its earnings forecast for 2014 by $0.05 to both its high and low ends.

While the 11% spike in J&J's drug sales has kept the stock moving today, it's no surprise to investors who have watched the pharmaceutical business emerge as Johnson & Johnson's highest-grossing segment. New hepatitis C drug Olysio, which U.S. regulators approved just last November, pulled in more than $350 million in quarterly revenue. The hepatitis C market has exploded with contenders recently, and investors shouldn't get too optimistic about Olysio given the tight race for the new all-oral hep C market between numerous pharma and biotech giants. However, Olysio has surprised so far, and there's no reason to think it can't carve out a successful and profitable niche in the market. Considering that Johnson & Johnson's drug business has years to ride the patent of top seller Remicade, which hauled in more than $6 billion in sales last year, investors should expect the company to remain on top.

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Dan Carroll

Dan began writing for the Motley Fool in 2012. He is a health care specialist who also follows the defense industry along with tracking the broader U.S. and international markets.

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Related Tickers

8/28/2015 4:55 PM
^DJI $16643.01 Down -11.76 -0.07%
JNJ $95.17 Down -1.05 -1.09%
Johnson & Johnson CAPS Rating: ****
KO $39.45 Up +0.18 +0.46%
Coca-Cola CAPS Rating: ****