The Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) put in another sterling performance on Wednesday, climbing 162 points, or almost exactly 1%, and adding to their gains this week on the general strength of the economy. With many companies already reporting solid earnings results, Thursday morning will bring a huge number of reports in this holiday-shortened week; DuPont (NYSE:DD) and UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) will be among the Dow components that could lead the average higher or lower based on their results.
UnitedHealth Group and DuPont will release their quarterly reports on Thursday before the market opens; last quarter, both companies got an early start on the morning's earnings news, releasing their respective reports at 6 a.m. EDT. UnitedHealth has scheduled its teleconference to begin at 8:45 a.m. EDT, while DuPont will follow up with a conference call scheduled for a 9 a.m. EDT start.
UnitedHealth's first-quarter earnings will give investors a key read on how the initial stages of the Affordable Care Act's individual health-insurance mandate have progressed. For years, investors have anticipated what impact the possible rush of newly insured members would have on earnings for UnitedHealth and its peers, with hopes that getting more people covered would offset some of the costs of Obamacare. Yet even as UnitedHealth Group and its peers have faced regulations setting minimums on the amount of premium revenue going toward medical care and requiring companies to accept patients with pre-existing conditions, shareholders have looked to UnitedHealth's other businesses for growth, especially with its Optum health-care services division performing very strongly.
Meanwhile, DuPont earnings will continue to reflect the chemical giant's ongoing transformation into an agriculturally focused company. Even though DuPont's peers have been successful with their own respective strategic changes to emphasize the promising agriculture segment, the entire industry faces challenges from negative consumer sentiment surrounding the use of genetically modified organisms. So far, investors appear to believe that those concerns will give way to the need for greater crop yields to feed a growing planet, but DuPont faces plenty of uncertainty as it aims to stand up to its rivals and claim its share of the lucrative ag market.
Both UnitedHealth Group and DuPont will have important information for investors who follow the Dow Jones Industrials. Given the hunger for information related to Obamacare, UnitedHealth's report is more likely to get attention, but DuPont's earnings could also give key signs on the health of the farming industry. Dow investors should follow both reports when they come out Thursday morning.