What to Look for in the Dow Today

Yesterday the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) posted its fourth consecutive loss, and the index is looking down again before markets open, trading at a loss of 0.6%. European markets were declining, while Asian indexes were mixed overnight. Analysts expect trading volatility to continue as Greece tries to form a coalition government and worries about its ability to pay its debts persist. Today, the second-place-finishing Syriza party gets its chance to form a coalition government after the first-place New Democracy party was unable to do so yesterday.

Oil dropped another 1% to less than $97 on fears of a global slowdown.

Coming off a 2% bounce yesterday from record-setting sales by its new movie The Avengers, which grossed more than $200 million over the weekend, Disney (NYS: DIS) will report earnings after markets close today. In its first quarter, Disney took an $80 million to $120 million loss on box-office flop John Carter. Analysts see higher advertising revenue from TV and theme parks and believe ESPN is a particularly strong piece in its portfolio. Live sports fulfill the need for viewers to watch in real time in an era where delayed viewing on Hulu, Netflix (NAS: NFLX) , or On Demand has become increasingly popular. Disney's relationship with Netflix has also concerned investors who will be looking for attrition from its children's programming, following the company's decision to license its shows to the video distributor. A deal made with Comcast in January may add an additional revenue stream for Disney. Analysts estimate the company earned $0.55 per share on $9.57 billion in revenue for the quarter.

Bank of America (NYS: BAC) has begun sending letters to mortgage-holders across the country, offering to forgive an average of $150,000 of their principal payments. The move comes as the result of a $25 billion settlement between the bank and 49 state attorneys general and federal authorities who had investigated the company for abuses involving foreclosures. Bank of America said at least 200,000 homeowners could receive the offer.

One more earnings report to watch comes from natural-gas engine maker Westport Innovations (NAS: WPRT) . The stock has gotten a lot of attention on this site as a play on the natural-gas shale boom, though shares have tumbled in recent months, down more than 40% from their 52-week high. Since we last heard from management at the end of February, Westport has acquired an Australian engine maker and launched its WiNG Power System, made especially for Ford pickup trucks. The average estimate is a $0.33-per-share loss on $89 million in revenue, which represents 135% growth over last year. As the company is still in a high-growth phase, I recommend giving more weight to the top line, rather than earnings.

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