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JPMorgan Leads the Dow's Triple-Digit Rise

By Dan Carroll – Mar 20, 2014 at 8:30AM

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Nike slumps ahead of its earnings release despite the Dow's big climb.

Markets are moving higher after yesterday's Federal Reserve-inflicted falls, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 1.20%) hitting its stride first thing in the morning to rise 123 points as of 2:30 p.m. EDT. All but a few blue-chippers are in the green. No Dow stock is having a bigger day than big bank JPMorgan Chase (JPM 1.06%), which has soared 3.6%. On the other side of the Dow, Nike (NKE 0.67%) slipped 0.25% ahead of its earnings report planned for release after the closing bell today. Let's catch up on what you need to know.

JP Morgan makes a big splash
JPMorgan continues to shake up the market after announcing yesterday that it would sell off its physical commodities trading group. The $3.5 billion sale to Mercuria Energy Group, one of the largest private commodity trading organizations in the world, comes as JPMorgan looks to shrug off growing regulatory scrutiny around the financial sector. The bank is also looking to hone in on core businesses such as lending.

The sale removes a sizable business from JPMorgan's portfolio. The bank beefed up its commodities group with acquisitions in 2008, 2009, and 2010, boosting the unit's annual income to roughly $750 million. But for JPMorgan, struck hard by legal costs in recent years, avoiding further regulatory scrutiny is a key play for the future. The company was smacked in its most recent quarter by legal charges that included a $2 billion settlement and weighed on profit. Keying in on core businesses will allow JPMorgan to regroup for the long term and gives investors a clear path for the future.

Nike's stock has been skyrocketing over the past year, but Wall Street today expects the company's per-share profit for its most recent quarter to fall $0.01 year over year to $0.72. Still, analysts expect robust overall revenue growth of 10% from the athletic-apparel giant, This would be line with the company's tremendous gains lately in North America and Europe, where it has managed to beat lingering recessionary blues to post strong sales jumps.

Nike's big target now is China. If it can keep its China growth going and tap into the potential of the world's second-largest economy, Nike will be able to distance itself from hard-charging competitors, such as Under Armour, that have risen quickly in recent years. Nike managed to turn growth around in China in its last reported quarter, but it will need to repeat that success today to convince investors it has the world's most promising emerging market figured out.

Dan Carroll has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Nike and Under Armour. The Motley Fool owns shares of JPMorgan Chase, Nike, and Under Armour. 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.

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