Dow Keeps Up the Pace


A day after President Obama's second inauguration, markets continued their bull run as the Dow Jones Industrial Average moved up another 63 points, or 0.5%. Earnings season heated up today, with five Dow stocks reporting, but Google seemed to steal the show after hours, with shares jumping 5% after hours as the company posted better-than-expected profits.

The search leader, which had struggled earlier with a declining cost-per-click rate, said net income improved 6.7% this round and the crucial ad rate fell, but only by 6% as opposed to 15% in the quarter before. Ad volume increased steadily as ad sales improved 19%, while overall revenue was up 36%.

Fellow tech titan IBM rode a similar wave, gaining 0.8% during today's session and another 4.4% after hours following a strong report. Profits rose 6%, and adjusted EPS of $5.39 beat expectations of $5.25. Revenue declined slightly but still beat estimates, and guidance was above expectations as well, indicating that tech spending this year will increase faster than expected, an overall bullish sign for the economy.

Travelers was also a big winner on the day, climbing 2.2%. The insurance peddler started off the day up 4% after delivering per-share profits of $0.72 on expectations of just $0.14. Superstorm Sandy had caused analysts to lower their expectations, and the storm ended up costing Travelers $689 million. As a result, profits were only about half of where they were a year ago.

Verizon shares were up nearly 1% despite posting a loss of $1.48 a share because of pension adjustments. Adjusted for one-time charges, EPS were $0.45, but that still missed estimates of $0.50. Still, the market seemed pleased with 6% revenue growth, as the company added a total of 2.2 million devices under contract in the period. Verizon also said it sold a record 6.3 million iPhones in the quarter, nearly two-thirds of smartphones sold.

Johnson & Johnson shares dipped 0.7% after the health-care giant guided below estimates and said it may sell a $2.2 billion blood-and-cholesterol diagnostics unit. Finally, DuPont gained 1.8% despite reporting a drop in profits because of decreased demand for an industrial pigment and solar energy products. The diversified chemical-maker's EPS of $0.12 still topped estimates, and CEO Ellen Kullman indicated that the company had made changes in its business to adapt to new market conditions.

All eyes will be on Apple tomorrow, which reports earnings after hours. Investors have had a tumultuous four months since the iPhone5 was released and are eager for answers.

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