The DowJones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) has surprisingly managed to stay above water today. I say surprisingly because about half of the index's components are in the red today, with a particularly heavy anchor being thrown out by AT&T (NYS: T) in the wake of its large $6.7 billion loss. Earnings got T-boned by the failed merger with T-Mobile as the company was forced to pay a breakup fee. The company was also nailed with iPhone subsidy expenses.
A knight in yellow armor
Enter Dow winner Caterpillar (NYS: CAT) . The heavy-equipment maker is up a rocking 2.7% today on strong earnings and a bold outlook for 2012. The biggest push came from robust mining equipment performance. The company reported that net income rose to $2.32 a share, up from $1.47 per share a year earlier.
One of the big reasons Caterpillar is driving the Dow today, despite the AT&T anchor, is that the equipment maker is the second most heavily weighted stock on the index at 6.5%. That's 3.6 times AT&T's 1.8% weighting.
AT&T and fellow carrier Verizon's light weighing on the Dow is good news for the index today, as well as going forward.
While AT&T stumbled today, the story was much the same for fellow wireless provider Verizon -- minus the breakup fee -- when it reported earnings earlier. The company was hit by the burden that offering Apple's (NAS: AAPL) iPhone has become. Verizon sold a record number of iPhones in the quarter but saw thinning margins. That's because Verizon, and fellow carrier Sprint (NYS: S) , heavily subsidize the phone to make it appealing to consumers. This increases sales, but painfully squeezes margins.
The trend is indicative of the power shift in the mobile space as some of the best players cease to be the providers themselves.
The best approach
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At the time thisarticle was published Austin Smith owns no shares of the companies mentioned here. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Apple, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.
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