The Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI) jumped a full 1.2% this week, after several big-name companies reported strong earnings. Three in particular stood out.
Last quarter, Travelers fell 4% after it reported weak underwriting and investment results. But this time, the insurance giant soared on indications by management that underwriting rates may finally be increasing after a long period of soft pricing. Combine this better pricing with (hopefully) fewer natural disasters that plagued the company last year, and we could see much better underwriting performance. Earnings per share also rose from $1.92 to $2.02, though that was due to a smaller share count; net income actually declined because of investment losses and a big tax gain last year.
On Thursday night, Microsoft reported that it earned $0.60 per share -- $0.02 higher than analysts had forecasted. Although its small but-growing entertainment unit had a weak quarter, its larger divisions -- Business, Windows, and Servers and Tools -- all saw sales growth. That's a good sign for the company, particularly with Windows 8 set to premiere later this year.
The discount retailer doesn't report earnings until May, but there are several possible reasons it might have popped on Tuesday. The IMF raised its estimate for global GDP growth to 3.5% from 3.3%. The company also announced that it will be beefing up its India e-commerce team. Finally, Coca-Cola (NYS: KO) reported strong earnings on 5% global volume growth, while Goldman Sachs raised its valuation estimate for Kraft -- signs, albeit oblique, that investors could have taken as evidence for a good retail quarter.
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At the time thisarticle was published Ilan Moscovitzdoesn't own shares of any company mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter, where he goes by@TMFDada. The Motley Fool owns shares of Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and Wal-Mart.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, and Goldman Sachs, creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft, and creating a diagonal call position in Wal-Mart. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.
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