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Stock Market News: Coke Is Still It; Losses Leave Schlumberger Unfazed

By Dan Caplinger - Oct 18, 2019 at 10:54AM

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Stocks generally took a breather Friday morning as earnings season continued to play out.

The stock market moved modestly lower on Friday morning as investors took a break from the sometimes-volatile moves in major indexes during the earlier part of the week. With market participants watching closely as various macroeconomic and geopolitical issues play out, a sense of optimism has moved to the forefront over the past few days. Yet similar hopes have gotten quashed in the recent past, and so experienced investors have tempered their enthusiasm with some caution.

As of 10:30 a.m. EDT today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI 0.10% ) was down 77 points to 26,949. The S&P 500 ( ^GSPC 0.31% ) fell 6 points to 2,992, and the Nasdaq Composite ( ^IXIC 0.00% ) dropped 28 points to 8,129.

In the absence of major market-moving news, investors are generally focusing their attention on earnings season. Coca-Cola ( KO -0.38% ) and Schlumberger ( SLB 0.97% ) both reported their latest results, and although the two companies are in very different businesses, they had a lot to say about the current state of the overall economy and their respective industries.

Coca-Cola pops higher

Shares of Coca-Cola were up between 1% and 2% Friday morning after the company reported its third-quarter financial results. Even though the numbers weren't unambiguously strong, the general sense investors got was that Coca-Cola is doing a good job in pursuing its overall strategic vision.

Cans of Coca-Cola and Coke Zero side by side.

Image source: Coca-Cola.

Fundamentally, results were mixed. Revenue climbed 8% on a 5% rise in organic sales, and earnings per share jumped 37% from year-ago levels. But after accounting for various extraordinary items, adjusted earnings per share were actually down 2% year over year.

Yet new products are playing a vital role in driving the company's success. In the U.S., double-digit percentage gains in volume of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar sales have been an important contributor to growth, and sales of mini-size cans have also been strong. Internationally, the launch of Coca-Cola Plus Coffee has produced promising early results.

Looking ahead, the U.S. launch of Coca-Cola Energy will mark a new competitive push into the energy drink segment. Even though currency headwinds will likely hold back earnings growth in the short run, Coca-Cola's innovation has the beverage giant excited about its future, and investors are happy to go along for the ride.

Schlumberger overcomes a big charge

Shares of oil-field services giant Schlumberger rose almost 3% following its third-quarter report. A massive $12.7 billion pre-tax charge captured a lot of attention, but the company's longer-term prospects look solid.

Industry conditions forced Schlumberger to recognize the big charge, creating an overall loss of $11.38 billion for the quarter. Goodwill impairments were responsible for most of the amount, with revaluation of intangible assets and issues related to its North America pressure pumping business making up the lion's share of the remainder.

Yet after accounting for those items, adjusted earnings per share were flat year over year, and Schlumberger got a lot of benefit from its international business. Although U.S.-based revenue was down 11% from year-ago levels, overseas sales climbed 8%. With international operations bringing in roughly twice the revenue of its U.S. operations, that performance disparity was responsible for producing the overall sales growth.

The company did warn investors that the typical slowdown in oil-field activity during the fourth quarter is likely to affect results in the near future. However, efforts to integrate new digital tools, fitting oil-field solutions to specific geographical locations, and being smarter about allocating capital appear to be paying off. If it can stay on its current path, then Schlumberger could see much better-looking numbers when the energy markets start to pick up steam.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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Stocks Mentioned

The Coca-Cola Company Stock Quote
The Coca-Cola Company
$55.00 (-0.38%) $0.21
Schlumberger Limited Stock Quote
Schlumberger Limited
$31.06 (0.97%) $0.30
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return) Stock Quote
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
$35,754.75 (0.10%) $35.32
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD) Stock Quote
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD)
$4,701.21 (0.31%) $14.46
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return) Stock Quote
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return)
$15,686.92 (0.00%) $0.00

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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