On Wall Street, everyone seemed to think that this season's earnings reports would be weak enough to cause concerns about the sustainability of the economic recovery. Yet at least based on today's releases, the young earnings season is going reasonably well. Add in the fact that inflation appears under control -- at least when you exclude food and energy prices -- and that homebuilder sentiment improved to a multi-year high, and you have the ingredients for a powerful stock market rally. By the close, the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI) finished up 128 points, with the broader market rising even more on a percentage basis.
Yet a few Dow stocks missed out on the celebration today. UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) fell 1% despite the company reporting a 23% gain in net income for the quarter and raising its 2012 full-year earnings guidance. What sent the stock lower were comments from CEO Stephen Hemsley that cast doubt on the company's ability to meet analysts' earnings expectations next year. Yet with its recent deal to take a big stake in Brazilian health insurance giant Amil, UnitedHealth has set the stage for promising long-term growth prospects.
Verizon (NYSE: VZ) also lost about 1% in advance of its earnings release later this week. Investors will be looking closely for information about the recent release of the iPhone 5, although it took place near the end of the quarter and therefore won't reflect the full impact of the release. Yet ever since Sprint (NYSE: S) got news that Japan's Softbank would take a big stake in the company, Verizon has seen its stock under pressure, as it becomes clear that it will continue to have more than one major competitor in the U.S. wireless market.
Finally, Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) dropped about two-thirds of a percent. As Fool contributor John Maxfield described extensively earlier today, Coke missed on both the top and bottom lines in its earnings report this morning, with currency effects playing a major role in the shortfalls. Yet on a volume basis, Coke posted some encouraging numbers. Despite some short-term concerns, Coke's longer-term prospects continue to look positive.
Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Coca-Cola and UnitedHealth Group. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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.