Companies such as Intel (NAS: INTC) and Bank of America (NYS: BAC) have since followed suit. Intel's earnings benefited from a 14% increase in sales in its high margin data-center segment. And Bank of America saw its earnings rise year over year thanks to better credit quality and lower expenses -- the latter, somewhat of a trend in the financial sector right now.
Indeed, despite all the bad news out there, things were starting to look up.
But for those of you wondering how much longer this could go on, we now have our answer.
But late this week, Travelers (NYS: TRV) , the Dow's only insurance company, reported earnings of $1.26 per share, well under the $1.34 per share analysts expected. By the end of the week, the market had responded by sending shares in the company down some 2%.
Average Analyst Estimate
Bank of America
Johnson & Johnson
Source: The Wall Street Journal's Market Data Center.
Despite missing analysts' estimates, the insurance company reported a profit of $499 million for the quarter. This compares with a net loss of $364 million in the year-ago period, largely because of $1.1 billion in catastrophic losses in the second quarter of 2011.
According to Travelers Chairman and CEO, Jay Fisher: "Our second quarter net income of $499 million benefited from meaningful improvement in our underlying underwriting margins as well as strong net investment income given the continuing low interest rate environment."
For the year, shares in the insurance giant, including dividends, have returned an impressive 9.4%, beating both the Dow and the S&P 500.
Foolish bottom line
Besides Travelers, which pays a respectable 2.9% dividend yield, the Dow has a handful of other solid dividend stocks that would satisfy income investors. To discover which ones our analysts believe are the best, check out our newest free report: "The 3 Dow Stocks Dividend Investors Need." You can download it now, for free.
The article The Dow's First Stumble originally appeared on Fool.com.
Fool contributor John Maxfield owns shares in Bank of America. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, IBM, and Intel and has created a bear call spread position in American Express.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Goldman Sachs, and Coca-Cola, creating a diagonal call position in Johnson & Johnson, creating a synthetic long position in IBM, and creating a write covered strangle position in American Express. 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. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.