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The 4 Biggest Earnings Beats in the Dow

Dan Caplinger
May 4, 2013

First-quarter earnings season for the 30 stocks in the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI) is just about over, with just a few stragglers left to report in the weeks to follow. In general, the season has been a good one for investors, with many more positive surprises than negative ones for Dow investors.

But several stocks have stood out for their extraordinary performance compared to what investors expected of them. Let's take a closer look at the four companies that beat their earnings expectations by the greatest margins.

Travelers (NYSE: TRV)
For insurance giant Travelers, all it took for a big beat was for the company to avoid a major catastrophic event. The company reported an 11% jump in earnings and a record operating profit, beating expectations by $0.29 per share and boosting its dividend.

Travelers has faced a lot of pressure in recent years, with two major hurricanes in two years and ongoing low interest rates hurting investment returns. But the upside of the big losses has been that Travelers has been able to increase the premiums it charges for insurance coverage, and that played a big role in the positive quarter.

Boeing (NYSE: BA)
Boeing has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons in 2013, with the ongoing travails of its 787 Dreamliner. Yet those troubles didn't weigh down earnings, which managed to beat expectations by $0.25 per share and reaffirm its earnings guidance for the full 2013 year.

The future for Boeing looks even brighter, as modifications to the Dreamliner's batteries should have the 787 program back on track in short order. Once the company puts the troubling episode behind it, Boeing will simply need to focus on meeting its production commitments and delivering on an impressive backlog of orders that extends years into the future.

JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM)
The big Wall Street bank managed to beat expectations by $0.20 per share thanks to a 33% jump in net income from the year-ago quarter, setting a new record. Improving credit quality also bolstered the company's prospects, allowing it to increase its dividend.