The Dow Drops, 2 Stocks Pop

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After yesterday's big rally, the markets are catching their breath with slightly negative performances this morning. However, we still have a whole host of news from companies reporting earnings after the market closed yesterday.

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at how the major indexes are faring today and drill down on a few stocks caught up in today's action.

Index

Gain / Loss

Gain / Loss %

Intraday Value

Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) (64.78)(0.49%)13,050.76
Nasdaq(11.90)(0.42%)3,030.92
S&P 500(5.50)(0.40%)1,385,28

Source: Yahoo! Finance.


First let's jump on Halliburton (NYS: HAL) , which has seen shares rise 4.5% after beating analysts on both the top and bottom lines, after backing out a one-time charge related to the Macondo disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Halliburton turned in record results for its North American business spurred on by the unconventional drilling boom that has swamped the U.S. with natural gas. That oversupply has led to record low nat gas prices, but Halliburton is agnostic as it just followed the E&P companies to oilier wells. As long as fracking concerns and regulation don't choke off this industry, Halliburton is poised for a long run of domestic success.

Dow components IBM (NYS: IBM) and Intel (NAS: INTC) are both trading significantly lower following their earnings releases yesterday evening, down 2.4% and 2.2%, respectively, making them the Dow's worst performers. What's surprising is IBM's quarterly results were not that poor. Big Blue upped its 2012 earnings guidance to $15 a share, above expectations, while reporting a 7% increase to the bottom line for the quarter. Intel, on the other hand, deserves a little pain after showing a flat top line and a double-digit earnings decline. The chip maker's dominance in PCs hasn't translated to mobile, and investors are rightly concerned about Intel's ability to move from a dwindling industry to a growing one.

Speaking of changing industry dynamics, robotic surgical specialist Intuitive Surgical (NAS: ISRG) knocked it out of the park -- again. In what is becoming old hat, the company blew past analysts for the 12th straight quarter, delivering earnings of $3.50 per share, a figure many on the Street thought the company wouldn't hit until next quarter. Sales of the da Vinci system were up 20 units to 140 year over year, but down 12 sequentially. However, where Intuitive really makes money is not on the lower-margin machine sales but on the high-margin instruments and accessories that need to be replaced with use. Procedures increased by 29%, leading to a 32% rise in accessory sales, causing the market to push shares 8% higher.

Intuitive Surgical has been a multiple-time recommendation of Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner since 2005, with his original pick up more than 1,200%! While we believe Intuitive's run is far from over, David Gardner recently uncovered a similar company using a similar product to disrupt another part of the medical industry. In fact, Intuitive Surgical's founder sits on this company's board of directors! Wall Street hasn't discovered this small-cap stock poised to be the next Intuitive Surgical, but you can by downloading our special free report "Discover the Next Rule-Breaking Multibagger." Don't miss out on this limited-time offer and your opportunity to invest in this stock before the market catches on. Access the report -- it's totally free.

At the time this article was published David Williamson holds no position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intuitive Surgical, International Business Machines, and Intel. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Intel, Intuitive Surgical, and Halliburton. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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