Earnings season is less than two weeks old, but this week, the Dow Jones Industrials (^DJI 1.26%) will hit the high point of the quarter from an earnings perspective, with almost a dozen companies reporting their quarterly earnings. With insight on everything from tech and telecom to consumer, financial, and industrial stocks, Dow investors will get valuable insight from this week's releases. But if you have to pick just a couple Dow stocks to follow this week, make them Boeing (BA 0.66%) and AT&T (T 0.89%), as their reports are certain to get a huge amount of attention and have implications for the broader market as well as their own individual prospects.
Boeing is in the enviable position of having an order flow that seems almost assured of generating trillions of dollars of revenue for the aerospace giant in the next 20 years. Even though the company's defense segment is subject to the ups and downs of military budgets in the U.S. and around the world, the commercial aircraft market has never been stronger and shows signs of continued growth.
Boeing's earnings report isn't expected to see any huge deviation from the company's previous quarter, with strong earnings growth coming from modest gains in revenue. Yet the report tells investors a huge amount about the business in which Boeing operates. Information on orders reveals trends in the airline industry, which has recently had huge success due to consolidation among top carriers and discipline in maintaining pricing power with the help of ancillary fee revenue. Meanwhile, suppliers depend on Boeing's ability to execute on the orders it receives, and with delivery schedules stretching years into the future, unexpected delays or other surprises don't just hit Boeing -- they can affect the entire aerospace industry, including several other members of the Dow Jones Industrials.
Meanwhile, AT&T is once again in the midst of trying to get a massive merger through the regulatory process, with its purchase of DirecTV receiving plenty of scrutiny. With AT&T having failed in its past efforts at a merger of this size, investors are understandably nervous about the telecom giant's prospects this time around. Yet at the same time, shareholders are anxious to see AT&T finally reawaken its growth engines and seek out new opportunities.
AT&T's results will confirm whether the company has been able to stand up to increased competitive pressure from its smaller rivals while keeping pace with its telecom peer in the Dow Jones Industrials. But more important will be management's discussion of AT&T's longer-term strategic vision, as the Dow component seeks to define how it plans to expand in the years to come. With speculation about whether AT&T will seek to grow internationally or try to broaden its reach across more of the U.S. market, shareholders want to see signs that AT&T isn't simply coasting on its historical leadership role in the industry. The biggest threat to AT&T is an effective price war, and while early signs suggest the impact of competition has been less than many feared, it's nevertheless a long-term issue that AT&T will have to address.
Looking at every Dow component's earnings report is a valuable way to keep on top of the issues hitting the biggest stocks in the market. But if you only have time for a couple of in-depth looks at earnings this week, see how AT&T and Boeing move the Dow Jones Industrials when they issue their reports.