Stock Market Today: Why Ford and 3M are on the Move

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) has gained 27 points in pre-market trading, suggesting a positive start for the stock market today. World markets rose overnight, led by a 1.3% gain in China's Shanghai index. European stocks were up 0.8% as of 9 a.m EDT. 

Earnings reports should drive stocks again today, as dozens of companies deliver their quarterly numbers. Amazon.com, for one, is expected this afternoon to post a small per-share loss on a 23% jump in sales, to $19 billion.

Meanwhile, Ford (NYSE: F  ) and 3M (NYSE: MMM  ) stocks are on the move after the companies delivered their quarterly numbers this morning.

Ford posted a small revenue dip but managed higher than expected profit growth. Quarterly sales fell by less than 1%, to $37.9 billion, while earnings per share slipped to $0.40 from last year's $0.45 result. Analysts had been bracing for flat sales growth and earnings of $0.36 per share. Ford's automotive volume slipped by 1% overall, which the company blamed on lower market share in all regions except the Asia-Pacific. Still, profitability growth was strong: Operating margin expanded by 1 percentage point, to 11.6%, in North America, helping overall automotive margins tick higher. The company forecast an upcoming drop in profitability, though, as 13 weeks of factory downtime in preparation for the launch of the new F-150 will cut into earnings. Nevertheless, Ford affirmed its full-year guidance of $7.5 billion in pretax profit. The stock was up 1.3% in pre-market trading.

3M delivered solid results this morning, with second-quarter sales up 5% to $8.1 billion. Earnings rose 12% to $1.91 a share. That revenue gain was powered by organic sales growth of 4.8%, which was an improvement over the previous quarter's already impressive 4.6%. CEO Inge Thulin said in a press release that management was intent on "deploying capital more aggressively" in a bid to improve the business and to boost shareholder returns. To that end, the Dow giant paid out $560 million in dividends during the quarter and spent $1.4 billion on share buybacks. 3M affirmed its full-year guidance that calls for earnings of between $7.30 and $7.55 per share on organic sales growth of roughly 5%. The stock was up 1% in pre-market trading. 

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