Today is going to be an exciting one for the Dow Jones Industrials Average
- The consumer confidence index will be released at 10:00 a.m. ET. The monthly survey polls 5,000 households and is considered a good proxy for changing consumer behavior. Look for changes of at least 5 points as meaningful. The expectations component of the index is generally regarded as the superior leading indicator.
- The Case-Shiller 20-city Index for November markets will be released at 9:00 a.m. ET, before the market opens. The report is considered a leading measure of the U.S. housing market. Considering how soft housing remains, many investors are looking for any indication of a turnaround. Unfortunately, the market expects a 3.2% retraction.
- Pfizer is expected to post flat earnings from last year at $0.47 per share. What's more, the company is expected to post essentially flat growth over the next five years. The big news recently has been the loss of its Lipitor patent in early December and its choice to offer the drug at generic prices.
- ExxonMobil, on the other hand, is looking to post higher EPS at $1.95 per share, beating last year's $1.85. The oil giant relinquished its crown as largest U.S. company by market cap a few days ago as Apple
moved ahead on blowout earnings and a more than doubling of its net income. After trading spaces recently, it looks like Apple's position at the top may be more long-lived this time, as fellow oil company Chevron's (Nasdaq: AAPL) recent disappointing earnings are thought to be a bad omen for Exxon. Credit Suisse lowered its earnings-per-share estimate for Chevron on the recent weakness. (NYSE: CVX)
How to play earnings today, and tomorrow
Trying to time earnings is exciting, gut-wrenching, and stressful. While it can be fun from time to time, it's certainly not sustainable. If you're in the mood to pick up a great company to buy and hold for the long term The Motley Fool has created a brand-new free report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012."
The report features a company hand-selected by the Fool's chief investment officer that has a strong future ahead of it. I invite you to take a copy, free for a limited time. Get access to the report and find out the name of this legendary company. The report is free, but it won't be around forever, so check it out today!
Austin Smith owns shares of Pfizer. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Pfizer, Apple, and Chevron and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.