The stock market had a relatively quiet start on Wednesday morning. Investors were largely in a holding pattern as they waited for the Federal Reserve's monetary policy committee to decide whether to cut short-term interest rates. As of 11:30 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was up 20 points to 27,218. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) rose 3 points to 3,016, and the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC) picked up 25 points to 8,299.
Earnings season is hitting high gear, and corporate giants Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and General Electric (NYSE:GE) both reported their latest financial results. The market responded favorably to Apple's news, but GE still has some work to do to persuade investors that its turnaround strategy is likely to work.
Apple gets into the groove
Shares of Apple jumped almost 5% as investors weighed the company's fiscal third-quarter results. Despite what might have seemed to be sluggish performance, shareholders reacted favorably to the news.
Apple reported just a 1% rise in revenue, and earnings per share were actually down 7% from year-ago levels. Yet that marked a nice recovery from Apple's declining sales in the previous quarter, and it was toward the higher end of the range that the iPhone maker had given as guidance. Similarly, the earnings decline was less severe than many had feared.
Several key items made shareholders more comfortable with Apple. Although iPhone sales declined, the drop in revenue from the mobile device slowed somewhat. Meanwhile, sales of the Apple Watch, AirPods, and other home and accessories products jumped by 48% from the year-earlier quarter.
Some analysts have feared that Apple's fastest growth is behind it, and the company has seen an evolution away from the blockbuster products it released more than a decade ago. Yet there's still a lot of demand for Apple products, and a loyal customer base promises to keep the company a leader in the tech industry for years to come.
The lights go out on GE
Meanwhile, General Electric's shares dropped about 3%. The industrial titan's stock initially climbed after the release of its second-quarter report, but investors seemed to get less comfortable with the progress of GE's turnaround efforts.
General Electric saw revenue fall 1% during the quarter, with a 4% drop in total orders weighing on the conglomerate. Weakness in the power segment continued to drag down the overall company's results, with the renewable energy segment only partially making up for the order and revenue declines in power. Yet historically stronger areas like aviation and healthcare also had lackluster performances, including drops in order flow and segment profit for the aviation business and a downtick in healthcare-related revenue and orders.
That didn't stop GE from offering more optimistic guidance. The company boosted its full-year earnings projections by $0.05 per share to a range of $0.55 to $0.65 per share, and it sees organic sales growth climbing at a faster mid-single-digit percentage pace for the industrial segment.
Investors didn't seem impressed with the news, though, as CEO Larry Culp said that there's still plenty of work left to do to implement a full turnaround. Until a recovery gets further along, it'll be tough to convince General Electric's shareholders that the company can return to its former glory.