The Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) had lost 125 points as of 10:45 a.m. EDT Friday as this week's wave of earnings releases continued to whipsaw the stock market. Yet about half of that Dow loss came from a single stock -- Visa (NYSE:V) -- and that obscured better news from a number of other blue-chip companies with less influence over the average, including General Electric (NYSE:GE).
Visa's 4.5% drop sent its share price down more than $9.50, making the credit card giant responsible for more than 60 points of the Dow's decline. Visa actually posted fairly strong growth in its latest earnings results last night, with net income rising 26% on a 7% gain in net operating revenue during Visa's fiscal second quarter despite some currency-related issues that held back growth. Payment volume grew by 12% on a constant-dollar basis, and total processed transactions jumped by 11%. But investors focused on Visa CEO Charlie Scharf's comments that the company expects growth struggles to continue in the current quarter. Moreover, full-year fiscal 2014 guidance for net revenue growth of 10% to 11% left growth-hungry investors wanting more. Given the challenges the payment processor will have competing not just with other card-network giants but also new electronic-payment systems using different business models, investors aren't certain that Visa can sustain sufficiently fast growth rates to satisfy them.
Helping to cut the Dow Jones Industrials' losses minimally was General Electric, which gained more than 1%. Numerous reports have said General Electric is looking to buy the energy business of French industrial giant Alstom, which builds nuclear-powered steam turbines. The deal would leave Alstom with its transportation division, which builds high-speed trains in France. Many analysts argue that political pressure from the French government could prevent a General Electric buyout, but sealing the deal would further bolster GE's efforts to focus on various niches of the energy business. Given General Electric's already substantial presence in electrical infrastructure, the deal makes sense as the conglomerate seeks to grow its nonfinancial businesses to become an even larger part of its overall operations.
Because Visa has a share price almost eight times higher than General Electric's, GE's news hasn't helped the price-weighted Dow Jones Industrials very much. Given the Dow's idiosyncrasies, it's important to look whenever the Dow falls substantially to see if a single stock like Visa is largely to blame.