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Earnings Season Disappointments Drag on Dow

By John Divine - Apr 24, 2013 at 6:50PM

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Disturbing trends, poor forecasts and peer underperformance hold back the market.

Even though Wall Street saw more gainers than decliners today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 1.61%) stubbornly slipped 43 points, or 0.3%, to end at 14,676. The blue-chip index was plagued by a handful of companies that failed to excite investors -- in one way or another -- during one of the four most important times of the year: Earnings Season, Round 2.

That said, Microsoft (MSFT 1.29%) refused to lose Wednesday, adding 3.8% after a double dose of good news. For one, the market applauded Monday's announcement by hedge fund ValueAct Capital -- within which it touted its newly acquired $2 billion stake in Microsoft. ValueAct, as an activist fund, has investors licking their lips about a potential shakeup of top management. 

The second catalyst for Microsoft's stock came as the company officially announced that the new Xbox console will be unveiled at a special event on May 21. 

Now, for the disappointments: Procter & Gamble (PG 0.88%) was by far the hardest-hit of the day, cratering 6.6% after its weak profit outlook sent shares to their sharpest single-day drop in more than four years. P&G was actually able to beat on earnings, but the discouraging forecasts combined with revenue that wasn't quite up to snuff left shareholders with a sour taste in their mouths.  

P&G shareholders can at least take solace in knowing that AT&T (T 0.09%) investors went on a similarly unpleasant ride Wednesday. Stock in the telecom giant stumbled 5% after painting a bleak picture of its own. Not only was revenue down, but AT&T also lost cell phone service subscribers in the period.

While Cisco Systems' (CSCO 2.25%) 2.5% stumble today doesn't even touch the two weaklings of the Dow, it's not insignificant, either. The go-to provider of all sorts of networking and technology equipment won't be out with earnings until May 15. So what gives? Well, extremely weak guidance from a competitor did the trick today, as Juniper Networks slipped almost 10% after earnings projections for the current quarter failed to impress anyone.

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Stocks Mentioned

Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return) Stock Quote
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
^DJI
$32,637.19 (1.61%) $516.91
AT&T Inc. Stock Quote
AT&T Inc.
T
$21.32 (0.09%) $0.02
Microsoft Corporation Stock Quote
Microsoft Corporation
MSFT
$265.90 (1.29%) $3.38
Cisco Systems, Inc. Stock Quote
Cisco Systems, Inc.
CSCO
$44.99 (2.25%) $0.99
The Procter & Gamble Company Stock Quote
The Procter & Gamble Company
PG
$146.48 (0.88%) $1.27

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

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