The Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) jumped 89 points on Tuesday, but the most notable thing about the Dow's movements was that the average managed to recover from an intraday drop of nearly 200 points -- from being up 100 points to being down 100 points -- on the way toward its eventual winning day. Between positive earnings results from Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and this afternoon's favorable release from Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), could the Dow make a push to new record highs?
How earnings could send the Dow soaring
Each of the earnings announcements Tuesday had broader lessons for investors in the Dow Jones Industrials. For Coca-Cola, expectations were extremely low, with controversies over the possible health effects of its carbonated beverages exacerbating existing challenges as U.S. consumers have already started moving toward non-carbonated drinks. But Coca-Cola managed to deliver growth where it needed it most: from emerging markets, where currency-adjusted revenue rose 12% in China, 6% in India, and 7% in Latin America. Contrast that to the 1% decline in North America, and you can see where mature consumer stocks need to keep focusing their efforts on higher-growth markets worldwide.
Johnson & Johnson had generated more optimism coming into its report, and once again, the health-care conglomerate's pharmaceutical division delivered outpaced growth with a 12% increase in segment revenue. By contrast, medical devices just barely managed to post positive growth, while consumer-oriented products actually saw sales decline. Some concerns about what may prove to be a limited window of opportunity for hepatitis-C standout Olysio could hold back growth later this year or next year, but for now, Johnson & Johnson has found a viable way to hold back the headwinds from Obamacare on its device business and produce lasting growth.
Finally, Intel's earnings could point to further gains for the Dow tomorrow, as the tech giant managed to top earnings expectations even though it missed slightly on the revenue side. In making its pitch to enter the mobile-device business, Intel said that it expects to ship 40 million tablet-computer chips this year. Yet given the operating losses that Intel's mobile and communications group suffered, investors might take more heart from data-center and Internet of Things revenue, which posted much more impressive growth.
For the Dow Jones Industrials, the key to earnings season isn't so much the results themselves but rather the response that each company makes to find new ways to grow. If the innovative spirit of the Dow's component companies shines through, then the Dow could easily pick up the couple of percentage points needed to set new all-time record highs.